In a recent feature on Forbes, contributor Drew Hendricks addressed methods businesses are using to integrate mobile technology into their customer service strategies. Areas that Hendricks’ article focuses on include creating mobile-friendly websites, keeping online information updated and providing live, responsive help lines – avenues that customers primarily access when they are outside of retail locations.

These are critical customer touchpoints, but we believe that the next evolution of this is for interactive mobile solutions to also become a natural part of the in-store experience. This shift is necessary for brands to continue capturing customers’ attention and promoting valuable brand interactions. The demand already exists – 48% of consumers use or would like to use a smartphone to shop while in-store or on the go and 80% of smartphone owners want more mobile-optimized product information while they’re shopping in stores. Consumers now want an integrated and purposefully designed in-store experience that incorporates mobile interaction and they expect retailers to innovate and adapt to their wants. If retailers can deliver on that expectation, they will be able to minimize customers’ mobile distractions, such as showrooming and online price comparisons, while customers are in the store and keep them focused on the brand’s products and mobile content.

Mood Mobile Infographic

Some retailers have explored the mobile avenue already, but with mixed success. Often it can be difficult to incentivize consumers to use any proprietary apps that the brand has developed, and brands must use sophisticated strategies for delivering the high level of personalized information consumers want through a mobile platform. The most complex element is integrating mobile usage into the total in-store customer experience and encouraging in-store mobile device use to become a natural behavior. That is the challenge that brands must rise to if they want to compete in the evolving retail landscape.

Select brands, like the department store Macy’s, already leverage the power of mobile effectively through a proprietary app. Consumers can receive in-store savings, manage registries, access Macy’s full online catalog and scan in-store barcodes and QR codes for product details at their fingertips. CVS also has an extremely popular and user-friendly app to aid customers with prescriptions, keep track of their reward points, order photos and shop weekly ads.

Many other brands have yet to create mobile experiences that are efficient and effective. Recognizing this need, we have developed an innovative solution for this budding market – our Presence technology. Presence technology allows retailers to leverage their existing sound systems and background music platforms to communicate with consumers’ mobile devices in-store. Presence can integrate with existing, more-established apps to drive further customer engagement, building a bridge to branded content and potentially eliminating the need to develop an expensive and underutilized proprietary app altogether.

As the in-store mobile platform continues to become more sophisticated, consumers will expect more relevance and personalization from their brands, as well as added value to the overall brand experience inside and outside the store. With developments such as Presence and other mobile marketing tools, shopping with our phones in our hands will soon become a natural part of the shopping experience. But the enhancements in the customer experience don’t stop with mobile integration. Marketing technology is developing quickly in many areas and will only get better with time – marketers must constantly innovate to keep abreast of the possibilities.

– Submitted by Ken Eissing, President of Mood Media North America