RetailMeNot’s senior vice president of retail and brand solutions, Michael Jones, was called to address the Summit crowd on the increasingly important role that mobile phones play in consumerist culture, with a presentation titled, “The New Mobile Paradigm: How mobile is dominating influence across all channels and how retailers are responding.”

Jones began his address with observations of his wife’s shopping behavior — sharing a photo of her using her phone, seated and surrounded by a computer, iPad, and catalogue — to illustrate how today’s consumers interact with many iterations of a brand’s image before deciding to buy.

“Seventy-three percent of consumers are starting their journey on a mobile device,” said Jones. He cited that on average, shoppers who engage with mobile interfaces as part of the shopping experience demonstrate a, “40 percent higher conversion rate.”

As part of his day-to-day job, Jones advises retailers on the ins-and-outs of mobile best-practice. He said that it is important to engage consumers on their phones in a way that creates “mobile moments.”

“You don’t want to be intrusive on the phone and send push notifications 24/7, but you do want to be there when they are thinking about shopping or thinking about your brand,” Jones said.

He cited Starbucks as an expert practitioner of this theory with their loyalty program app. “I think Starbucks does an amazing job,” Jones said. “You make a purchase in the morning and they surprise and delight you, asking you to come back and enjoy something more refreshing in the afternoon. Just because a purchase is done, don’t think your relationship is over with that consumer.”

Sephora, too, is a label he cited as knowing how to get consumers back into their stores, by offering free makeovers and VIP sneak-previews through a loyalty app.

While Starbucks and Sephora may have taken the application approach to mobile, Jones felt that app creation is not meant for everyone. He cited brands like Burberry and Under Armour as companies that have looked outside the typical branded app strategy to lure in consumers through digital partnerships and acquisitions.

Overall, he feels that being creative and engaging with consumers in innovative ways is a no-brainer because, “they are your fans, they love your brand, they love you.”

Inside that engagement, he said, it’s important to catch consumers with a properly trained store staff and utilizing an element of surprise.

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