Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why Every Local Merchant Needs a Contextual Mobile Presence

For local merchants, mobile is the new way to define brand and presence both on the web and on the streets (geo-streets that is). These days having just a domain name, webpage and company Facebook page is so last decade. Today, every local merchant needs a mobile presence that connects them with their patrons in a way that engages patrons as they shop. This however is no longer adequate, as mobile alone does not cut it. What merchants need today is mobile plus a big dose of contextual and proximity driven engagement in order to connect with patrons as they shop and in a way that is not seen as invading on privacy.

The big challenge with mobile shopping utility apps and social gizmo apps, that try to assist mobile shoppers or that hit customers with marketing offers and ads, is that they leave the retailer's brand behind and they end up fitting everyone into a Facebook universe or cram you into how players such as FourSquare or ShopKick model the mobile commerce world. These are all good apps, but they don't put the merchant in control nor do they put the merchant's brand in the forefront, because the merchant does not own the app. Much like business website, every local merchant needs to control the experience that mobile shoppers have in their establishment, and not let some third party obscure and waterdown their brand.

It is all about the merchant owning the app real-estate that is used to experience Joe's Coffee Shop, for example, while consumers are in Joe's Coffee Shop. This is why many social and mobile commerce apps are struggling to enable the full potential of mobile commerce for local merchants. The answer is to utilize mobile much like the way any merchant websites would work. As a local merchant, you want your website that you own, operate and customize. You don't want to fit into someone else's ecosystem and brand. It is great to have a merchant Facebook page or to have a corporate Twitter handle, but the in-store mobile app experience that shoppers have in your establishment on your premises should be something you as the merchant owns and controls, much like your website. It is part of your brand and your gateway for communicating and reaching your customers.

Big and small local merchants need to define their own mobile commerce experience and brand and not depend on the likes of ShopKick and FourSquare to define how they engage their local shoppers. This is in part why Facebook and others have not figured out local commerce yet.

Why can't every merchant have their own in-store app just like they have their own website? Why can't every local merchant engage and communicate with local shoppers to nurture a closer relationship with customers? A mobile app is more than just software or a thing to process a credit card transaction or track loyalty; it is a piece of real-estate, in each of the respective app stores, that engages the customer both while they are in and out of the merchant's establishment, just like a website represents a company (big or small) on the web and more. This is what OfferDrop is working to enable for all local merchants and venue owners. Join OfferDrop today to get control of your mobile presence with your local shoppers, while they are in and out of your establishment.

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