(Originally published on Oct 4, 2017)
Amazon’s forays into brick-and-mortar stores are all over the news lately, with many analysts predicting doom and gloom for traditional retailers across the country. While retail brands are wise to be concerned, we’re here to point out that this turning point actually represents a big opportunity.
By embracing mobile in a whole new way, traditional retailers can expand their business models and change the game on Amazon. Mobile’s unique location technologies can turn local brick-and-mortars into hyper-personalized and highly nimble distribution centers for customers’ online orders. With the right mobile solutions, local stores can deliver faster and better than Amazon—and customers will reward them for it.
Mobile Can Turn Local Stores into Faster and Better Distribution Centers
We’re all accustomed to using location-based services for mapping and navigation. Warehouses and large distribution centers commonly use real-time location systems to keep track of inventory. Mobile gives retailers the power to combine navigation with the ability to find and track individual pieces of merchandise—within the footprint of a local store—and puts it all right in an associate’s pocket. As you’ll see, this enables local stores to deliver for local customers, faster and better.
What you need is an associate-facing mobile app with the following features:
- Barcode scanning that integrates with your inventory system
- Mapping and wayfinding with indoor blue dot navigation
This mobile app would interact with an in-store Wi-Fi network or beacon system to locate products and streamline operations, so the store can put products in customers’ hands as fast as possible.
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Use Case: BOPUS (Buy Online, Pick Up at Store)
Shopper Jane purchases an item online that is available at her local SportzStuff store. She decides to pick it up on her way to work, rather than wait for delivery. Associate Bob uses the associate app to locate the item, then navigate the quickest route to collect the item and return to the stockroom for packaging. When Jane arrives at the store 15 minutes later, everything’s ready for her—that’s faster than Amazon.
What’s more, if the retailer’s app also has a customer-facing side, Associate Bob can receive an alert the moment Jane approaches store (mall, parking lot, etc.). That alert enables Bob to greet Jane by name at the door or even curbside, so he can present Jane’s purchase to her personally.
Not only is this approach faster, it also provides a more satisfying customer experience. Shopper Jane got exactly what she wanted with VIP treatment and little to no hassle, the same day she wanted it. If she wanted to try on the item in-store for size, she could do so quickly and make any necessary return or exchange conveniently—instead of having to find and schlep to UPS or an Amazon vault. Plus, stopping by the store gives Jane a chance to make an impulse buy or two.
Use Case: BOSFS (Buy Online, Ship from Store)
Shopper Latrelle also purchases an item online from SportzStuff. It turns out that item is available at the store just across town, so Associate Jeff uses the store’s app on his phone to locate the item in the right color and size, then navigate by the fastest possible route to collect the item and return to the stockroom for packaging and shipping. Because Jeff got the product out as fast as possible—and it was sent locally instead of from a regional distribution center—SportzStuff can beat Amazon again.
Use the Advantage You Already Have: Proximity
Think about it: As Amazon rolls out its brick-and-mortar strategy, it will have to procure space, build out, stock and staff stores across the country. Thousands of retailers already have those physical stores, close to their customers. Unlocking their potential with a mobile app can take as little as a few weeks—and Amazon can’t hope to beat that.
Mobile has so much to offer retailers. Want to learn more about leveraging a mobile app to improve the customer experience and drive sales? Download our Retailer’s Mobile Strategy Kit. And if you’d like to talk about challenging Amazon by expanding your business model, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.