Marketing maverick’s crazy risk on a mobile strategy that flaunts ‘conventional wisdom’
What if you were to create a customer experience that helps them spend LESS time shopping in your store? That’s less time to wander the aisles and add items to their cart while looking for what they came to buy.
Sound crazy? That’s what Jeff Handler did.
As CMO of Meijer, a retailer with more than 200 stores in the Midwest, he was looking for ways to enhance the shopping experience of customers. That’s when he heard about mobile mapping technology company Point Inside.
Point Inside specializes in indoor location applications that connect customers to stores and brands through their smartphone. Handler wondered if this would work in a retail environment.
An app is born
A typical Meijer store has more than 100,000 products ranging from groceries to hard goods and most everything in between. Think Walmart.
Conventional wisdom says retailers like Meijer should put products people want in the back so customers have to walk through the entire store. Presumably they will buy more products.
But Point Inside has found that doesn’t really work.
CMO Todd Sherman says, “People are kind of in a hurry, and in fact, they get annoyed that they have to walk all the way to the back of the store to get the milk.”
What does work, according to Sherman, is enabling customer efficiency. People go to the store with a mental number, he says.
They think, ‘I’ve got 20 items and 30 minutes to shop for them.’ If you help them pick up those items in 20 minutes, they’ll use that extra 10 minutes to look at other items in the store. Some of them will be added to their shopping cart,” says Sherman.
With this in mind, Meijer collaborated with Point Inside to create Find-It, an industry first mobile app for Meijer customers. Here is what they can do with the app:
- Locate specific products in the store within a few feet
- Create and track personal shopping lists
- Route a shopping trip for optimum efficiency
- View sale items and use virtual coupons
- Locate store services such as restrooms
Check out this two-minute video to see Find-It in action.
An exercise in ‘Youtility’
This is one of many stories you find in Jay Baer’s book Youtility. It illustrates the need to do marketing upside down. Baer explains it this way: “Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers.”
Meijer could have used mobile technology to push better-targeted ads or SMS texts to customers. That would have served the needs of their business. Instead, they turned it upside down and used the technology to create a helpful, useful experience in real-time.
The rewards are compelling: greater customer trust, affinity and loyalty. And more sales.
So why don’t more businesses have a youtility mindset?
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