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Are storefront mobile calls to action effective in driving in-store holiday traffic?

Retailers are showcasing mobile calls to action in their store windows, on signs inside stores and in other high-traffic areas as a way to make shopping more convenient this holiday season.

Hoping to appeal to time-crunched holiday shoppers looking for quick and easy ways to check items off their gift lists, retailers are finding new and creative ways to mobilize their store marketing efforts via a QR code or other mobile call to action. These efforts help support the considerable mobile content that retailers are beginning to build up while driving engagement at the same time. 

?Retailers are discovering that the store is one of the best locations to present a mobile call to action,? said Stephen Burke, vice president of mobile at Resource Interactive, Columbus, OH.

?There are more mobile calls to action because there are more and more mobile assets being created by retailers,? he said.

?The good news is that that technology works and consumers are embracing mobile calls to action.?

Engaged shoppers
Businesses in the United States are still in the early stages of populating mobile calls to action across their assets. However, in Japan and Europe, mobile calls to action are widespread, suggesting that mobile calls to action could become more prevalent here as well.

There are signs that retailers are beginning to put more resources behind mobile calls to action for the current holiday shopping season as well as throughout the year.

One of the factors driving the growing activity is that retailers find mobile calls to action are often worth the effort.

?In store calls to action are one of the highest if not the highest driver of engagement,? Mr. Burke said.

However, the use of mobile calls to action can still be spotty even within a particular retail organization.

Mr. Burke reports seeing numerous calls to action inside the Easton Mall in Columbus, OH, during a recent trip. However, while walking Chicago?s Miracle Mile shopping district recently, he did not spot even a single mobile call to action. 

The reason there are not more mobile calls to action is that the strategy does present some challenges for retailers.

?If you have hundreds of stores, the effort to get a consistent mobile call to action out across all these locations requires a lot of cooperation within the organization,? Mr. Burke said. ?Mobile is typically handled by the digital or direct arm of the business so it requires working with the physical locations to deploy.?

Another challenge is the sheer number of choices before retailers, from QR codes, Microsoft Tags, text messaging and augmented reality, to name a few.

?There are a lot of choices and that is an issue,? Mr. Burke said. ?Retailers should stick to one strategy and be consistent.?

Creative placement
Retailers are also getting more creative in where they are using mobile calls to action with an eye toward taking advantage of the unique qualities that mobile offers to make shopping on-the-go as easy as possible.

For example, eBay recently opened a pop-up store in New York City that features QR codes that users can scan to buy items (see story).

Additionally, and Sears and Kmart are placing ads in areas where on-the-go consumers frequent, such as airports and bus shelters, that showcase popular items and have a QR code attached to each item so users can purchase them (see story).

?Retailers are finally starting to understand that mobile is not about grasping the shiny object,? said Tom Nawara, vice president of digital strategy and design for Acquity Group, Chicago.

?Rather than planning on the end user going to a store or walking by a window, retailers are trying to be where the user is when the user is there and lubricating that transaction,? he said.

?It is about how does mobile fit into the context of what shoppers are trying to do. Retailers are leveraging mobile to make the shopping experience much more transparent.?

Multiple touchpoints
Mobile calls to action should also be placed in more than just store windows.

The goal is to try to encourage a mobile transaction at the moment a consumer sees a mobile call to action while also encouraging them to go inside the store or to extend the experience to a tablet or the desktop.

?Try to engage in more than one touchpoint,? Resource Interactive?s Mr. Burke said. ?Continue the activity in store, near escalators and point-of-sale areas. 

?There are multiple places where consumers can be engaged,? he said.

Mobile is affecting many different areas of retailers? marketing strategies and mobile calls to action are just one of the ways that they will be using mobile during the holiday shopping season this year.

However, with smartphone penetration growing and mobile shopping on the rise, mobile calls to action are certainly an important tool in the retail mobile toolbox.

?We think mobile calls to action in storefront are a great way to engage customers,? said Rich LaPerch, CEO of Aegis Mobile, Columbia, MD.

?However, retailers need to remember that mobile is not just a strategy, it is a medium, and content is important,? he said. ?There are a plethora of mobile strategies available to retails, and they must be careful to select the one that is best suited for their business, their product, and their consumer.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York