Digitizing The Brick & Mortar Store: Using iPads In Retail

Brick & Mortar IconIt’s hard for many to comprehend where the brick and mortar store potentially will be within the next decade.  As brick and mortars begin folding under the tough competition from online e-commerce stores, they will need to make changes in order to survive.  A key change, that’s already being seen, is the marriage of the digital realm with the real world.  Below we explore where the classic store front is heading as well as what it may take to compete against the fierce online competition.

Mobile Based Apps

Macy's mobile app

Macy's Mobile App

Creating a mobile app for your business is a tactic currently being used that has seen some success.  Typically, the app would be designed to be used by a consumer while in your brick and mortar.  The app enhances the real world shopping experience by providing additional product information, in-store coupons, etc.  A prime example is the Macy’s app which allows you to scan product bar codes with the app while shopping to find out more about the product.  The major drawback to store specific, mobile based apps is that consumers are required to download a different one for each store they visit.

Geofencing is a neat concept that has helped mobile apps work in cohesion with the retail environment.  A mobile app that utilizes geofencing technology will actually send consumers alerts to their mobile phones (or perform an action) when the user gets within a certain distance of the store.

Tablets Integrated Into The Brick & Mortar

iPads in retail are becoming more common everyday.  The reason for this is that the price of iPads has dropped to a point where they are affordable to many businesses.  As opposed to a mobile based app approach, iPads integrated directly into a store’s environment are permanent fixtures.  Often these devices are protected in iPad kiosks and require little or no maintenance from staff.  A main advantage of an iPad kiosk in your business is that every customer can use your app, without the need to own a mobile phone and install your business’s app on it.  Below are a few ways iPads are being used in brick & mortars today:

Interactive Product Demonstrations – Businesses are setting up tablets by new products to act as an information resource.  Customers are able to learn more about products at their own pace without the need to interact with a sales associate.

Email & Data Collection – Pen & paper email sign up forms are becoming outdated as businesses begin to collect email addresses on iPad . OnSpot Social is an app designed primarily for this purpose and can also collect Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers, mobile numbers, and additional contact information.

iPad App to capture emails

OnSpot Social iPad App


In-store Customer Service Is Still Key

As much as we all like technology, it cannot  be used to replace living and breathing employees at your business.  Technology needs to be used properly, in conjunction with sales associates and customer service representatives.  If a customer is shopping in your store as opposed to shopping online, this likely means they are interested in the traditional, real world shopping experience.  Part of that includes conversing and interacting with employees.  Customer service is still key and can make the difference!

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