According to Oracle, 81 percent of customers will pay more for a great customer experience. However, to provide a great experience, retailers must know how their customers prefer to be reached. And once they’ve determined their customers’ preferred communication channels, they need to be sure to send the right messages through retail technology.

The most effective way to talk to consumers is to listen first – follow their paths to purchase.

Steps consumers take before purchasing:

  • Identifying a need
  • Researching products
  • Selecting a product
  • Purchasing a product

Each of these steps gives brands the opportunity to communicate with the consumer. Brick-and-mortar stores can nurture purchase intent and encourage purchase feedback to establish a relationship.

A few years ago, retailers feared that the rise in mobile technology was hurting their sales – some even attempted to prevent smartphone use in their stores. Now, retailers realize that mobile devices aren’t going anywhere, so instead of working against them they must work with them to stay connected with their customers.

A 2013 Deloitte Digital study reported that smartphones influenced $159 billion in U.S. store sales in 2012, and expect them to influence $689 billion in 2016. By encouraging customers to use mobile retail technology in-store, brick-and-mortar retailers can keep more of that money.

Here are a few examples:

1.  In-store browsing

When consumers use their smartphones in the store, it’s often because their purchase requires extra thought. They want to see additional sizes, colors or models and the find best price. Instead of discouraging them from using their mobile devices, store employees can travel around the sales floor with mobile technology to help them answer these questions. That way, they can hear it straight from a professional instead of seeking insufficient or inaccurate information online.

And from the devices, sales associates can send a personalized email with relevant product information to the consumer to help them along their path to purchase. Customers are likely to be grateful for this engagement. After all, as mentioned, they’re willing to pay for a better experience.

2.  Location technology

Location technology, such as geo-fencing and Apple iBeacon, is another way to engage consumers while they are in your physical store. Mobile apps can be location-enabled to provide shoppers with specific alerts and triggers to either inspire them to visit the physical store or engage them while they are already in it. For example, iBeacon allows retailers to find out which departments and areas their customers are browsing in and send them information about the products they’re currently viewing.

3.  Mobile scanning

Barcodes that can be scanned with mobile devices, or QR codes, also allow customers to gain more information about items and products as they browse. This is helpful from a marketing standpoint, too, because it signifies that the customer is in the research phase of their purchasing path. Retailers can send relevant marketing messages to guide them along that path.

4.  eReceipts

eReceipts, which send electronic receipts to customers via email at the point of sale, give retailers the opportunity to build a customer database for communication purposes. They can use the eReceipts to not only learn more about their customers, but also recommend additional purchases, suggest they enter your customer loyalty program and solicit feedback. Because the eReceipt signifies the end of their purchasing path, it’s a great point at which to initiate their next purchase.

As mentioned, to effectively reach and market to consumers, retailers must be able to effectively listen. These technologies give retailers the opportunity to learn more about their customers’ needs for both products and brand interaction. By integrating mobile technology, brick-and-mortar stores can provide an innovative, valuable experience that conveniently combines online and physical shopping in one place.