Hardware Retailing

SEP 2016

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

Issue link: http://www.hardwareretailingarchive.com/i/717393

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Page 64 of 106

HARDWARE RETAILING | September 2016 60 Smart Marketing Websites are becoming less important as apps become more important, Kirkland says. "Yes, you still need a website, but websites aren't enough anymore. In the future, an app—snippets of information that help to accomplish a specific task—is what a retailer needs to have." As you consider looking for an app that will best serve your store's needs, or perhaps even creating your own customized app, ask yourself: "What am I trying to accomplish?" If you want to build an app for your store, think about what you'd like to focus on. Maybe you'd like to offer coupons and other forms of savings, or make customers aware of specials. Perhaps you do quite a bit of online business and want to offer your customers a way to easily order online. Or maybe you simply want a quick reference guide to allow customers to find your contact information or get directions to your store. But when it comes to capturing the shoppers' attention, beacons are the next big thing. A beacon is a small piece of hardware placed in strategic locations throughout the store. It connects directly to smartphones through Bluetooth. With beacon technology, you can send messages to customers via smartphone when they walk by a beacon's location. For example, say you're having a sale on small appliances. A small beacon near the housewares department would transmit messages to customers who went by, and they'd receive alerts on their phones letting them know about the sale. Alerts can also be customized based on shoppers' previous purchases, so for example those who had previously purchased housewares from you might get messages from that department. Beacons may also be able to generate real-time data, including the areas of the store shoppers frequent the most. You can take this data and change store layouts as needed to better accommodate the flow of shoppers throughout the store. One of the challenges of beacon technology is that consumers must opt in to receive these messages. "It cannot track you unless you allow it to," Kirkland says. It's also important to consider your average transaction size to make sure you will get your money's worth if you invest in beacon technology. Beacon technology has only been around for a few years, but the price is dropping, making it more accessible to more retailers. In fact, Apple, PayPal and other big names have, or are in the process of, creating their own forms of this beacon technology. Another upcoming trend is augmented reality, where videos or graphics are overlaid on a real- world environment, such as the popular Pokémon Go, says Steve Koenig, senior director of market research for the Consumer Technology Association. In fact, Koenig references the Pokémon Go craze as a perfect example of the success of augmented reality. "Pokémon Go is arguably the first mass adopted augmented reality application, and it's more than proven that the concept is a successful one among consumers." He predicts different forms of augmented reality will become more popular in retail sectors, especially around the holidays. "It's no surprise that the first successful example is a game, a form of entertainment, but now the groundwork has been laid for businesses to find out how they can make augmented reality work for them." While you may not have the resources to create an augmented reality game, you can embrace what's already on the market and find a way to use it to your advantage. A good example is retailers who have invited Pokémon Go players into their stores, boosting exposure to their businesses. (To learn more about one retailer who does this, see the story on Page 46.) "More and more brands are selling experiences, and that's just what this is," he says. Any way you can get the customer more involved and interacting with your products is helpful. One example, says Koenig, is a retailer who sells headphones, and may set up a POP display that connects to Bluetooth so customers can test the headphones with music from their library on their phone. Customer loyalty programs remain another effective way to market to a group of targeted customers by reaching out to them and offering sales and discounts based on past purchases. When done correctly, target marketing based on data derived from a loyalty program can drive many more customers into your store. " Now the groundwork has been laid for businesses to find out how they can make augmented reality work for them. " —Steve Koenig, Consumer Technology Association

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