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Experts: Mobile, location data needed
While there is no doubt that digital will be a powerful force for retailers in 2017, retailers with physical stores have other challenges they will need to face. Should they enter social? What about mobile? And are beacons really worth it? Two experts weigh in.
First, beacons. While the jury is out on just how impactful beacons are, many believe there is potential in the technology.
"Beacons offer a lot of value for retailers and marketers, with countless applications. Through geo-location data, beacons can enable real-time, personalized marketing in unique new ways. But the jury is still out on how impactful beacons have been in driving in-store sales or brand uplift at scale. Part of this is attributable to adoption - many marketers have been slow to embrace the technology. They're still concerned about the backend infrastructure and how well that can be supported long-term. As investments have stalled, the value of beacons as an actionable tool has stalled in parallel," said Nels Stromborg, EVP, Retale.
The problem with only looking at the potential, though, is that retailers can miss the fact that potential doesn't necessarily mean increased revenue.
"For beacons to be most successful for a retailer the user must have the retailer's app installed - and many single brand retailers, like Ralph Lauren, are decommissioning their apps. Users must choose to share their location and receive beacon-based communications at the app-level. In addition, they must also turn on Bluetooth functionality. This degree of friction makes it challenging for retailers to maximize the value of beacon technology," said Doug Baldasare, CEO & Founder, ChargeItSpot.
Baldasare also notes the prohibitive costs that have kept many retailers out of the beacon business.
Second, the importance of mobile. Throughout the 2016 holiday shopping season, we have seen ecommerce and mcommerce numbers strongly increase, with mobile showing bigger increases. This trend, both experts believe, is another reason for retailers to invest in mobile.
"With mobile consumer adoption at an all-time high, even overtaking desktop, and more money being poured into mobile campaigns than ever before, advertisers, publishers and platforms are seeking ways to optimize campaigns by making formats more engaging, immersive and visually compelling," said Stromborg. "Data is also playing a key role in these changes. Many customers and partners are talking about the need for a more data-driven approach across mobile creative, to drive performance but also support attribution. In 2017, these developments could accelerate."
Baldasare agrees on the importance of mobile - especially that of mobile location.
"Geo-location data is becoming critical for any brick-and-mortar marketing effort," said Baldasara. "Retailers must lean more heavily on geo-spatial data and location-based marketing techniques. Location, via mobile, allows them to contextualize a shopper and unlock personalization in a way other data does not. While beacons have yet to deliver on their promise, programmatic ad-buying and more location-based mobile ad inventory will enable retailers to take advantage of location intelligence and better target on-the-go shoppers."
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