Consumers see and shop the brand, not the channel. Flittering between channels and devices, they’ve come to expect a frictionless journey. Above all, they want experiences that enhance their lifestyle. Integral to this is establishing more meaningful, relevant and personalised relationships. As we move beyond omnichannel to a channel-less retail world, influencing purchasing decisions will require reaching consumers with the right message at the best time and place. Simply put, closing the loop on the path-to-purchase will become increasingly important in capturing loyalty and spend.

Engaging with the always-on shopper

Constantly connected thanks to mobile, the now always-on shopper expects to be able to engage, interact and shop however, wherever and whenever they choose, on their terms. This is driving the need for location-based or proximity marketing – a tactic utilising both location-based data and existing consumer data to bring uniquely tailored and highly relevant experiences that prompt shoppers to make a purchase. This is becoming expected, with consumers increasingly willing to share personal information and location data in order to receive rewards and offers.

Taking proximity retail technology to next level

While location-based offers are nothing new, a big step-change is artificial intelligence and predictive analysis, which combined with advances in geo-location and instore technology, is taking personalised location-based marketing to another level. Brands have been quick to leverage the power of GPS-fuelled augmented reality, finding compelling ways to reach customers. As proximity shopper engagement moves forward, it is vital to not only know where a consumer is, but where that consumer’s attention is. For example, algorithms can be applied to obtain granular behavioural information that allows advertisers to forecast a consumer’s location and send meaningful offers based on routine. One such brand excelling at this is Starbucks. It’s Mobile Order and Pay feature utilises customer’s proximity allowing them to pre-order and collect from the most convenient store. Starbucks is saving customers’ time and through the collection of detailed behavioural data enticing them back through highly relevant promotions redeemable at the most convenient location and time.

Lessons from India

As consumer lifestyles become increasingly on-the-go, proximity marketing will become more commonplace, and a critical success factor of the retail industry. We just have to look at emerging markets to see its importance and impact. Take India, a mobile-first, increasingly digital market. Here, PinCarts, a Mumbai-based start-up, will imminently launch its proximity-based discovery and targeting platform, and by doing so create a compelling shopping experience at shopping centres and stores. This platform is focused on blending the best of online and offline, from virtual catalogue discovery to location-based personalized targeting in real-time and indoor navigation to post-purchase re-targeting and analytics. PinCarts uses advanced technologies such as low-energy Bluetooth Beacons, GPS/Wi-Fi enabled geo-fencing, big data, machine learning and predictive analytics. This concept is a great example of making it easy for brands and traditional retailers to create and automate proximity-driven marketing, while granting them access to a vast audience of mobile equipped shoppers – even those without the app.

Concepts such as this can help transform retail stores by targeting customers with the right content at the right place and at the right time, and by doing so establish a personal rapport with customers by making the experience personal, rewarding and more enjoyable. This will help brands influence customer buying decisions, drive store sales and build customer loyalty.

Blending the best of both worlds

As consumers increasingly become channel agnostic, using geolocation will help drive footfall to stores through time-bound promotions, playing a vital role in frictionless, channel-less experiences. Proximity retail goes beyond this though. Granting complete visibility and transparency of a retailer inventory and supply chain is becoming seen as the norm to shoppers. Equipped with their mobile, the ultimate shopping companion, enables them to conduct a simple Google search to find what they’re looking for, and be directed to the nearest retailers that have the item in-stock at the best price.

Being part of the conversation

With social media playing a greater role in influencing purchasing decisions, and mobile now the one constant throughout the increasingly complex shopper journey, combining social platforms with geolocation enables advertisers to seamlessly activate local influencers, allowing them to align with social media influencers that engage, influence and even inspire action among local audiences. This will certainly resonate with shoppers craving meaningful content, and the validation of their peers when making purchasing decisions. As the desire for instant gratification intensifies, mobile solutions, such as fashion search and discovery app Grabble, are vital in granting shoppers whatever they want, whenever they want it. As being part of the conversation in real-time is so important, platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Google’s “Allo” are important elements in creating relevant, contextualised and personalised experiences.

It seems the need for contextualised, personalised experiences that enhance the everyday is only set to intensify. With mobile now the glue binding all channels and touch-points, it not only blends the best of the physical and digital, but when combined with technology and sophisticated data analytics, equips brands with tactical tools to effectively deliver personalised, contextualised experiences. This is sure to resonate, and rapidly become an important weapon in winning the shopper as we move towards channel-less retail. 

Attend Kantar's Retail Now & Next 2017+ event on 30th March in Amsterdam to hear more about the changes, challenges and consequences of the trends that will affect your business in the rapidly evolving retail landscape. This not to be missed forum will validate your short and long-term strategy and equip your teams with the knowledge, insights and action plans needed to deliver success in the years to come. For more information and to book a seat click here…Retail Now & Next 2017+