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Updated Apr 10, 2024

Beacons Are Beckoning: How Mobile Technology Is Changing Retail

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Chad Brooks, Staff Writer

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Mobile technology is taking the retail market by storm. With technological advances occurring all the time, companies must adapt. Companies such as PayPal, Amazon, Samsung and Apple have implemented media for consumers to conduct transactions in the palm of their hand. Learn how these companies are adapting to the significant change in the mobile retail market.

The impact of mobile technology on retail 

Mobile technology is always improving. Because of the ubiquity and user-friendliness of smartphones, customers favor companies that have websites and apps that can be easily navigated on them, which encourages businesses to provide a seamless customer experience. Mobile technology in retail enables customers to compare product prices, shop from anywhere at any time and instantly receive inventory updates. 

A unique and personalized brand experience is essential for retaining customers through mobile mediums. By creating a positive experience with companies’ mobile technology, customers will often shop exclusively in that medium. Companies that do not embrace this trend may lose business due to their lack of participation in the mobile market. That is why adopting mobile retail technology is vital.

How retail businesses can use mobile technology

There are several ways retail businesses can incorporate mobile technology into their overall sales strategies.

Retailer apps

A retailer app enables customers to make purchases online. Every retailer should have an app. A good mobile app is more than just a convenient platform for making purchases; it must also provide a personalized “experience” that relates to consumers’ interests and conveys details about items for sale. These personalized experiences include emailing receipts, a 24/7 online store and inventory updates. [Related article: Financing Your Retail Store]

FYIDid you know

Retailers should determine if they are better suited for a mobile app or a mobile website.

Push-based apps

The first apps were pull-based, meaning the user had to do something, such as request information, look up a product or put an item in a shopping cart. Today’s apps are push-based, which means they anticipate user requests and provide pertinent information based on users’ needs. So if an app “knows” a user is interested in a certain product, it will automatically send updates about pricing information or availability without any action from the user. Using push-based apps allows for personalized user engagement that can target inactive users to enable reengagement. The best feature of push-based apps is that no personal information is required to opt in.

TipBottom line

Push notifications can engage inactive users and serve as reminders for active users.

Beacons and mobile ads

In-store beacons – small and relatively inexpensive Bluetooth devices placed throughout a store – provide an added dimension to the push concept. If the shopper allows beacon notifications, these devices transmit not only product information, but also sales notifications whenever the shopper is within range. Beacons can also be used to display ads customized to individual shoppers’ preferences and interests. If a customer previously clicked on a company’s online ad and then walked into the store to browse, the beacon would link the customer’s ad visit data and could interact with the customer while they shop; for example, giving them additional details about a certain item or offering a coupon to incentivize a purchase.  

Mobile payments

Apple Pay and Google Wallet are well on their way to widespread acceptance. Retailers have had to upgrade to top point-of-sale (POS) systems to accommodate the EMV chips major credit cards now have in place of magnetic stripes. These new systems typically also have the capability to accept credit card information (as well as store loyalty cards and gift cards) from a mobile app. The convenience factor here is twofold: There is no need to carry physical cards, and the customer has the ability to simply tap and purchase at a product display to quickly complete a transaction. 

The benefits of using mobile technology

Mobile technology provides businesses another avenue for customer connection. Although only 48% of small businesses currently have a mobile app, about 27% plan to build one to increase their sales, according to a survey by Top Design Firms. Here are some of the reasons businesses are using such technology.

Reaching shoppers via mobile

Over the course of the last five years, online shopping has been increasingly popular. The number of online shoppers in China alone from 2015 to 2021 more than doubled, from 413.25 million to 842.1 million, according to data from Mordor Intelligence. Many large companies are joining this mobile retail world by implementing mobile payment apps, which allow customers to make mobile payments through their own personalized medium, such as PayPal or Venmo, to conduct transactions. 

Did You Know?Did you know

About 83% of U.S. e-commerce sales for books, music and videos are purchased through Amazon, according to eMarketer.

Improving the customer experience

Mobile technology makes the shopping experience more efficient, more personalized and more convenient. A positive customer experience is essential to any retailer. Mobile apps can help locate items, provide customer service and simplify the checkout processes. This benefits the retailer’s bottom line as well. Enabling customers to get information and make purchases means less need to staff cashier positions. That can not only reduce labor costs, but also eliminate the time and hassle of scheduling a workforce that is frequently characterized by high turnover and unreliability.  

Giving customers more immediate information improves the consumer experience and can save a company time and money. That is why mobile technology is an important part of the retail business landscape. 

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Chad Brooks, Staff Writer
Chad Brooks is a writer and editor with more than 20 years of media of experience. He has been with Business News Daily and for the past decade, having written and edited content focused specifically on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Chad spearheads coverage of small business communication services, including business phone systems, video conferencing services and conference call solutions. His work has appeared on The Huffington Post,,, Live Science, IT Tech News Daily, Tech News Daily, Security News Daily and Laptop Mag. Chad's first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014.
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