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How to address the mobile customer experience

Retailers are coming to understand that mobile devices are increasingly part of the in-store customer experience. But using them correctly is a delicate balancing act.

Mobile devices are becoming a key component of the retail experience in stores. According to a Forrester Research report, 82% of U.S. consumers make purchase decisions when they are in the aisle of a store, and 56% use smartphones to check prices online at least "most of the time."

The hurdle for many companies is turning customers' mobile shopping activities to their advantage because they lack the infrastructure to address mobile customer experience. Companies retooling digital operations should follow four directives, according to Forrester Research analyst Adam Silverman.

Invest in the right technology. Silverman said companies struggle to stitch together technologies that can aggregate customer data. Most focus on just a few pieces, such as inventory information or enabling the free flow of information to customers and companies. Product information must be shared quickly and efficiently.

Make the employee experience easier. Arming store associates with technology can boost customer experience; 42% of consumers would engage an employee with a mobile device while in-store, Silverman said.

Mobile customer experience

Turn data into insights. The mass influx of customer data from digital avenues begs the question of where the data will be stored, who is responsible for it and how it can be turned into actionable insight. That will require a significant investment in tools and staff, Silverman said, to link elements such as in-store analytics with Web-based data to generate richer customer profiles.

Support real-time experiences, within reason. Ultimately, businesses have to provide contextual customer experiences based on real-time insight from various sources, including CRM data, analytics, location and mobile data. Silverman described that as a Holy Grail scenario, which is problematic if companies bombard customers with real-time offers. Ideally, companies should subtly recommend services designed to enhance the experience. 

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