How to Use Tech to Get Local Customers

Every business big or small has the same opportunity to attract local customers thanks to mobile devices and modern technology. Google, for instance, now shows local search results when looking up queries on its engine.

This puts the power back into the hands of the consumer. They are more connected than ever before and able to interact with a brand — or the world at large — with just a few quick taps. Furthermore, because they can do this anywhere, anytime, it’s up to them when and where they consume content or engage with others.

If you want to get in touch with your local audience, the best way to do it is through modern technology, or more specifically mobile experiences. Keep reading to find out several ways you can make that happen.

Mobile and Contactless Payments

The way we pay for products and services is slowly evolving. Most credit card and debit providers have reissued chip-based cards, which help improve personal security. It’s difficult, if not outright impossible, to duplicate authentic cards with security chips embedded within.

Also, mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay make it possible to pay with our phones. Contactless payments, using NFC, allow you to simply tap a payment solution against the appropriate terminal — this includes phones, cards, wearables and even key fobs.

More and more people have access to this technology, which is why you should incorporate it into your business. In 2012, 51.6 million smartphones released were NFC-enabled. Just two years later, NFC-capable phones surpassed 416 million shipments. By the end of 2018, they’re expected to more than triple that.

The support for this tech is out there and in use by many consumers already. It also offers a convenient, frictionless checkout process for consumers and employees alike. Why not implement support for it where you can?


Customer Loyalty Program

Initially, it might not seem like a customer loyalty program is tech-related, but it really is. For starters, you need to build or develop the system that will track customer purchases and issue rewards. Then you need to allow customers to cash in those rewards, be it coupons, discounts, promotions or even in-store cash. The hardware is necessary to facilitate these transactions both online and in-store.

Finally, you’ll need to build a public portal for your customers where they can keep track of rewards and content earned. The best way to do this is to launch a mobile app that can be installed and accessed from anywhere.

While you’re at it, you might as well outfit that app with offerings to include location-based promotions, push notifications, and more. The best part? This can all be tied into the “buckets of gold” concept, which allows you to fill your coffers simply by doing what you do best and making it known.

Mobile Shopping Experiences

In addition to shopping in-store, customers shop for products and goods via their mobile devices. They may desire omnichannel experiences that bridge the gap between a physical in-person visit and an online or virtual one. For example, many retailers allow you to purchase products online and have them shipped to a local store for pickup, for free. This is a great example of an “omnichannel” experience that spans several platforms.

The key, however, is to optimize the experience for browsing via mobile. Tailor your website to be responsive and or mobile-friendly, or launch a mobile shopping app for your brand.

Location Data Marketing

Smartphones and mobile devices offer the option to track and ping a user’s location based on GPS coordinates. There are many uses for this, outside of simply tracking where your customers are or where they’re coming from. This is called geofencing, and the data transmitted comes from beacons.

You could, for instance, deliver targeted promotions for a local store based on a customer’s location data. If they visit a particular store with a deal going on, you could send a push notification to their device to let them know about it as soon as they walk through the front door. This may be the difference between them making a purchase during their visit or walking out empty-handed.

It’s about more than just marketing, however. You can also use location and local data to show up in search engine results thanks to SEO. If a customer is looking for a product or answer to a query, and you have your site structured for SEO exposure, it will likely show up at the top of mobile search results.

Looking for a pizza joint nearby might pull up your restaurant. The same is true of anyone looking for a particular store or brand. And all of this, is related to location data, which can be tracked and extracted from mobile devices.


Augmented or Virtual Reality

Augmented reality is the merger between the digital world and the physical one. Pokémon Go is a popular example of this technology in action, allowing you to chase catch, and interact with digital creatures in the real world simply by using a mobile phone.

Virtual reality is similar, but it’s more immersive in that you’re completely delving into a virtual world or experience, as opposed to staying in the real world. Most often, it involves donning a headset that plunges you into a virtual experience.

You can leverage both of these technologies through mobile devices. More importantly, they can be leveraged to draw in local business. If you want to see this in action, check out IKEA’s AR furniture and design app. It allows you to take furniture you can buy in stores and overlay it in your natural environment to get a feel for how it would look and how much space it would take up. It’s a brilliant way to leverage modern technology, incorporate products, involve the customer and draw in their business.

Technology changes constantly, which means there’s always a new idea your business can try. Experiment with them to see how you can gain more local customers.

Nathan Sykes is a technology and business writer at Finding an Outlet.

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