With the holiday season on the horizon, retailers must prepare to compete more intensely than ever for their piece of the growing, but finite consumer spending.

Increasingly, that means upping their omnichannel retail communications game. After all, customers are moving more fluidly than ever among retail channels — including physical stores, websites, calls to the contact center and mobile apps. 

In fact, a recent study found that half of all shoppers use their mobile devices to research a purchase while they’re in the store. That behavior underscores the fact that retailers have to make all their engagement channels work together in concert to deliver a great shopping experience. Otherwise, they can easily lose customers to competitors with more compelling omnichannel capabilities.

A Beacon to Buyers

Beacon technology can be particularly useful to retailers that want to combine in-store and mobile engagement to encourage purchases and delight customers. Beacon systems use Bluetooth low energy (BLE) — or “Bluetooth Smart” — technology to transmit signals to and from mobile apps and networked beacons within a store. These signals give retailers information about shoppers that can be used to push out location-based ads.

For example, if a customer lingers in front of a display for headphones, a retailer could immediately send that customer a coupon for 10 percent off audio accessories via a mobile app. Such tactics can help retailers reduce “showrooming” — the common customer practice of visiting multiple stores to interact with products before buying them online, often from a competitor.

Retailers can also use beacons to identify individual shoppers so they can send them personalized greetings and offer discounts that are even more tailored to their shopping histories and expressed preferences.


Half of all shoppers use mobile devices to research purchases while they’re in store. #cdwsolutionsblog

Beacons can even gather data about how customers generally navigate store aisles and displays. Retailers can then analyze that data to make smarter decisions about merchandising.

For these reasons and others, retail sales associated with beacon technology are projected to explode, from $4.1 billion this year to more than $44 billion in 2016, according to a BI Intelligence report from Business Insider.

Serving Customers Where They Are

Omnichannel can work for retailers in many other ways as well. For example, many retailers’ websites offer click-to-chat functions that quickly connect customers with service representatives who can answer their questions. But there’s no reason that same capability can’t be offered on an in-store web kiosk as well. Such a kiosk could provide other services that greatly enhance the shopping experience; for example, customers could use the kiosk to have clothing delivered to a dressing room while they continue shopping.

Retailers can also empower customers to prepare shopping lists in advance of their store visit via the web or a mobile app. That way when the customer gets to the store, a sales associate can be ready to assist the customer with a mobile point-of-sale (POS) system that allows them to check out without even waiting in line.

Regardless of exactly how retailers choose to mix and match components of the omnichannel shopping experience, the result is much more than just an individual sale. A high-level of personal service helps build brand loyalty that can lead to much higher lifetime customer revenue. Great omnichannel service can also turn customers into brand advocates — and there is no better form of marketing than word-of-mouth.

For even more information on how retailers are using wireless mobile technology, check out this white paper, “How Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Can Win the Omnichannel Battle.”