How Do I Integrate My App With My Brick-and-Mortar Locations?

This blog post is the 7th and final part of our “How Do I Integrate My App Into My Marketing Ecosystem?” series. Read part 6 here.

Apps-plus-brick-and-mortar-locationsFor many things in life, like ordering food, booking a vacation, or even finding your significant other, there’s an app (or maybe 50) that can manage the whole process for you.  

But in other cases, businesses still need to operate brick-and-mortar stores because they cannot deliver their main offering solely through a digital channel, no matter how robust technology gets. 

Think about furniture outlets, restaurants, electronics stores, or car dealerships – visiting a physical location is a critical part of the experience. 

So, even if apps can’t replace your real-world storefronts, how can they make them better?

 

Tip #1: Connect your in-store shopping experience to your app to increase efficiency 

Shopping at a brick-and-mortar location can be frustrating when you can’t find something you need or if you have to wait in long lines. Through GPS technology embedded in mobile devices, apps can improve customers’ in-store shopping experience by helping them find what they need faster and simplifying the checkout process.

For example, Target’s app allows users to schedule an in-store pick-up of a desired product (skip the line!) and see its aisle location (no more aimless wandering!).   

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Tip #2: Build an innovative app feature that adds a “wow” factor to your physical location

Besides erasing pain points, apps can also enhance a standard location visit. Walking around a store is a pretty mundane process – you look at products, see how they feel, maybe try them on, etc. Your app can jazz up this ordinary experience. How? Build a cool feature that can only be activated when someone is in close proximity to (or at) one of your physical locations. This will add a “wow” factor to your store and encourage more people to stop by.

For instance, Zipcar developed an awesome app feature that lets its members unlock a car and honk its horn when they visit one of their parking lots.    

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Tip #3: Make it easy for app users to reach in-store personnel when they have questions

Once upon a time, people only used their phones to make calls. Since then, smartphones have turned into mighty, multipurpose devices. Nevertheless, people still appreciate having a human connection so, embed “click-to-call” buttons in your app. Click-to-call buttons can instantly put app users in touch with your nearest storefront if they have any questions or need help, setting the stage for a seamless transition from casual in-app browsing to in-store appointment/visit.

Here’s what this looks like in practice. AutoTrader.com’s app has phone numbers listed for the dealerships each car is available at, which when clicked, quickly connect potential buyers directly with sellers.  

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Big Takeaway: Apps can optimize the in-store shopping experience so people make faster and happier purchases

The possibilities for how apps can bring the traditional in-store shopping experience to the 21st century are endless. From removing inefficiencies to streamlining in-store traffic to adding interactivity and convenience, apps can help customers shop faster and happier when they visit your physical locations. 

 

Remember, Your App is a Channel 

The biggest difference between mobile-first companies and large multi-platform corporations is how integrated their apps are to the rest of their marketing organization. 

Even if your app isn’t your main source of bread and butter, think of it as both a stand-alone channel for driving business growth, as well as a cross-channel vehicle that can complement your online and real-world presence. Think of how, where, and when your app fits into the customer’s journey with your brand.

Don’t stunt the potential of your app by isolating it. And don’t optimize your app in a silo. 

At the risk of sounding cliché, remember, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

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