Photo by Matt Wakeman (Flickr)

Photo by Matt Wakeman (Flickr)

We spend an awful lot of time here on this blog preaching the Gospel according to Mobile. Thou shalt put thy services in the cloud. Thou shalt not purchase a desktop. Honor thy customer and thy customer’s data. And you’re here, at this website, so you’re either already a believer or looking to convert. Welcome, brothers and sisters. Hear my words and know the truth: wireless will set you free. Accepting this is only half the battle, though.

See, you’ve got to convince your customers, too. Your mobile-optimised website and online ordering app don’t do you any good if no one knows they’re there. The good news is that your customers more than likely already have the technology in their pockets and hands. The bad news is you have to get their faces out of their smartphones long enough to tell them how to find you. Or, at least, that used to be the problem, because the smartphone is a direct line to your customer in a way that email or a simple phone call can’t match. Once you’ve established that connection, there are any number of ways you can personally reach out and get a customer back in your store. If you’re a small business, you’re probably not going to hire a developer and create a custom app for ordering or loyalty. Unfortunately, that’s no longer a good enough excuse for not having a mobile strategy. Software- and apps-as-a-service have exploded in popularity over the last few years, and going omnichannel isn’t just for the big guys anymore.

Kounta-collect-ipadIntegrate a loyalty app with your point of sale and you can do much more than just reward your customers for remembering to come back for another coffee. With their purchase history stored in your POS and linked with a loyalty engine like Collect Rewards, personalised offers can be pushed directly to your customers smartphone. Collect also integrates with Apple Wallet and its location services, so your customers will get reminders that they have an offer from you when they’re near your store. And the social component means they can share this information with a few taps to a few hundred of their closest friends. Your average Buy-10-Get-1-Free punch card can’t do that. Likewise, online ordering does more for your business when it’s done mobile-ly. Cast aside for a moment the fact that, for hospitality, the average check size goes up by 20% when customers order online—actually no, don’t cast that aside. Dwell on that for a moment, the idea that without the social pressures of standing in line and making decisions in a public forum, customers will likely order more food. If someone’s standing in your restaurant and it’s crowded, they’re not going to bust out their laptop and order from your website to beat the queue. But they will absolutely depocket their smartphone and order via Beat the Q. Or get the next round of drinks with Boppl. And when they order this way, it’s the perfect time to roll them over into your loyalty program. Of course, once you’ve reached out to customers and gotten them to buy something, the question then becomes how will you accept payment? Chances are good that someone using an iOS app to order from you is using Apple Pay, or some other form of mobile payment. Can you handle that kind of payment in-store? Should you?

Potential mobile customers are everywhere.

Potential customers are everywhere.

The answer to that question, by the way, is: yes.

Think of it this way, in the old days if you had a cafe with a small dining area and a brisk take-out business, your reliable customer base—like most businesses—is mostly made up of people who’ve already eaten there. On any given day, those people may or may not be near you, maybe they have a menu, but getting them through the door is entirely up to them. Now take that same group, and realise that you’ve got the ability to push an offer directly to their pockets, and their devices will vibrate to get their attention, maybe even remind them they’re nearby. And there’s something in it for them if they push that same message out to their friends. And they don’t even have to show up to buy something from you—they can just swing by later and pick it up. Your competitors are probably doing this already, and your customers are definitely already shopping this way. The thing about being mobile is that, by definition, you’re on the move. And if you’re not mobile? You’re going nowhere.