News Feature | January 9, 2015

New Survey Indicates Power of Mobile Apps, Loyalty Programs

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer

Retail, Grocery, And Hospitality IT News For VARs — December 15, 2014

Mobile devices are common tools for marketing for retailers, and are growing in popularity each year. Retailers are now looking to mobile devices to see how they can connect, interact and incentivize customers. A market analysis from Forrester's Consumer Technographics Retail Online Benchmark survey found that in marketing, some aspects of mobile marketing perform better than others. The study was a survey of 50 managers and executives at retailers who maintained a workforce of 500 or more employees. Forrester conducted the study for SPS Commerce, a cloud service company helping retailers optimize their omnichannel performance.

Overall, the results found that loyalty programs are the most effective according to retailers. 64% of retailers indicated that their loyalty/reward program was the best way to connect with consumers.  This is good news for retailers who may be considering mobile loyalty programs, and in light of the October 2014 infographic published by Daily Break, which found that 83% of their consumer respondfents said they belonged to a loyalty program. The retailers surveyed in the Forrester study also indicated that loyalty programs were the best sales drivers as well, capturing 46% of the survey responses.

The next popular way to connect to consumers was the retailer's app, another bit of good news for retailers who plan to offer a mobile app in 2015. Already the use of mobile apps is widespread through a variety of retailer categories, including department stores, fast food restaurants, clothing stores, and media.  56% of retailers said their mobile app was effective to connect with consumers, and 32% of respondents chose flash sales as effective as well. When it came to mobile sales drivers, 28% of retailers said the retailer app drove sales, followed by 26% answering flash sale opportunities.

The study also indicated the least effective sales drivers, and the results show that coupon apps may not perform well. Multi-retailer coupon apps ranked at 18%, followed by in-store QR code promotions at 14%. This corresponds with recent marketing data indicating the QR code was waning in popularity, and a 2013 survey by MarketingCharts that found only 21% of smartphone owners say they had ever scanned a QR code, and only 2% said they scanned a QR code once a day. Multi-retailer apps were at 6% in the Forrester survey, with the same percentage for BLE/proximity-based promotions.

To offer another perspective, the survey also indicated what retailers felt had no effect on sales. In-store QR code promotions topped the list of 22%, followed by flash sale opportunities at 18%, and BLE/proximity-based promotions tying with multi-retailer apps at 16%. 6% of respondents also indicated the loyalty/rewards programs and retailer apps didn't effect sales.

Finally, the survey also studied the popularity of an emerging retailer offer, the mobile wallet. 2014 saw several retailers such as Macy's develop mobile wallets and 2015 looks to increase that trend. The data from the survey indicating what consumers want from mobile wallets, and will no doubt guide retailers who may be considering this venture in 2015. The majority of consumers view mobile wallets as a place for coupons, with 44% answering they wanted to see coupons, discounts and special offers in mobile wallets. 39% of the respondents also wanted to save money with the mobile wallets, requesting price comparison tools, and 34% wanted location-based offers integrated into the wallet. Product information was also an important concern, with 37% of respondents wanting this feature, and 36% wanting ratings/product reviews. Lastly, 31% wanted digital receipts, 29% asked for multiple payment options, and 27% wanted to add bank or account information. Although the term “mobile wallet” pertains to a way to manage payment options, it seems coupons and savings tools were the most prevalent in consumers' minds.