Personal Small Business Enterprise

Shopping with Smartphones

Smartphones are the new enablers of savvy customers. No longer content to shop unprepared, customers are using real-time research to find the right product at the right price. Is your business ready for them?

While the smartphone shopping trend most directly affects the retail space, it doesn’t stop there. Customers of all types of businesses are using their enhanced mobile capability to ask questions – and get answers from – other like-minded users. Easily accessible social media tools enhance consumer-to-consumer communication, making it even more critical for business owners to adapt their practices.

Here’s what you need to do to keep pace:

  1. Learn how your customers are using their smartphones. If your customers are using mobile technology to raise their game, so should you. Talk to them and find out what tools they’re using – QR code scanners, comparison shopping apps, etc. – and how they’re using them. Set up your own devices accordingly.
  2. Watch the competition. Use your tools to learn what your competition is doing. Research their offerings. Study their price structure. Visit their physical and online presences to better understand how they work – and how you compare. Build narratives for the inevitable questions that will follow.
  3. Train your people. All your customer-facing staff should be prepared to deal with questions from smartphone-toting customers. Incorporate the aforementioned narratives into staff training efforts and run through example scenarios with them to build confidence. Give them access to the same technologies so that they’re always able to proactively work with customers.
  4. Keep it current. Like all technologies, smartphone-based shopping tools are constantly evolving. Regularly assess your tools to ensure they’re current. Update your apps and processes as necessary. Don’t limit your efforts to one type of device. If you’re using an iPhone, for example, and one of your employees finds a worthwhile app on Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry, consider expanding your strategy to include additional platforms.

As mobile devices and the software and apps that run on them become ever more capable, shoppers and customers in all sectors will increasingly use them to gain the upper hand. By integrating these very same tools into your own business planning, you can move beyond simply blunting their advantage to turning a potential liability into a customer service – and competitive – opportunity.

Have you already begun to optimize your business for the mobile shopping experience? What tips or tricks could you offer? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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