Daily Dose of iQ: In Shift to Omnichannel, Major Retailers Launch Store Navigation Apps

Aug 29, 2012 — Tara Bartlett

The big-box retailers have heard the call for branded mobile apps and, as Roger Yu of USA Today reports, stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Walgreens are introducing maps and navigation tools to their apps to help customers find products faster.

“With mobile apps becoming a key sales channel, they've begun adding coupons, prices, store hours and bar code scanners," Yu writes. "Now they're betting that item locators will help customers shop more efficiently and, as a result, buy more.”

To meet consumer demand for in-store technology, larger retailers are offering branded mobile apps that enhance the in-store shopping experience.

The seamless experience and ease of use that the online and mobile shopping channels provide have changed consumers' expectations of what the in-store experience should offer.

Consumers want a hassle-free, informative and convenient experience in-store. That means being able to easily find information about products as well as where to find the products in the store quickly, without having to track down a sales associate.

It also means being able to check out and pay for the product easily. (We’re seeing more self-serve checkout options too.) Apps like the one Home Depot is offering allows consumers to better navigate among the 40,000+ products offered in the store which ultimately creates a better experience.

Essentially, mobile apps and online elements are being integrated with the physical store presence to provide a better overall experience and are thus reinforcing in-store as the primary retail channel.

Speaking of omnichannel, a new Google study looks at multi-device usage.

New research from Google relates directly to e-commerce and m-commerce, as 67% of respondents (see above graphic) shopped using more than one device (smartphone, tablet or PC). We’ve previously blogged that 57% of shoppers go from PC-to-store to buy things (24% go mobile-to-store).

We've seen a shift in retail over the past 20 years from single channel to multi-channel and now omnichannel. Today’s shopping experience is characterized by connectivity and multiple touchpoints.

Omnichannel retail is all about providing consumers with a holistic experience that merges these various touchpoints.

Consumers should be able to come to the retailer from whatever channel is applicable to them, and from any stage in the purchasing process. Retail apps offer a convenient, real-time channel that consumers can tap into before and during the in-store experience.

XQ Interactive Retail does what Walmart and other major retailers are hoping their mobile apps will do: Improve the in-store shopping process.

But instead of being on consumers' phones, XQ is displayed on touchscreens within the store, on an interface that provide consumers with detailed product, pricing, inventory and add-on information.

XQ Browse offers features that roll into an omni-channel retail strategy:

  • enabling consumers to build a shopping basket or ‘wish list’
  • scanning a QR code to save the list to their smartphone
  • sending the QR code via email or submitting it to a point-of-sale terminal if they are ready to check out

The XQ Browse app offers consumers a self-serve option if retail staff are unavailable and also serves as a convenient sales aid for retail staff to walk consumers through the various product options, an especially useful feature when selling complex products like smartphones or cameras.

Coming soon, the new Browse for iPad app will offer retailers a more flexible way to present products to consumers. Retail staff equipped with Browse iPads can walk consumers through product options no matter where they are in store, look up inventory to see if the product is in stock and send products to the point-of-sale for convenient checkout.

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, e-Commerce

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