Social CRM Strategy For iPhone: 3 Ways to Leverage the iPhone to Engage and Retain Your Customers

Written by Nicolle MuellerJanuary 17, 2011

Long gone are the days where once you got a customer in the store you were pretty much guaranteed a sale. Now, with all ages sporting an iPhone or smartphone, they may come into your store but exit within a matter of minutes after an alert that the item they’re looking for is cheaper elsewhere. By the time they’ve made it to their car they are getting a confirmation email for their purchase done via text message, while the item they intended to buy from you still sits on your shelf.

The rules of shopping are changing. Let’s looks at just 3 ways you can make sure the customer purchases from you, and stays with you, all with a tap on a phone. 

1. QR Codes

It’s not likely your customer has paid much attention to QR codes or barcodes, but if they own an iPhone, that will soon change.  Anyone who has ever been through a checkout line at the grocery store already knows a bit about how barcodes work. It’s scanned by the cashier in order for the register to get an accurate read of the item’s price and information.

That’s pretty typical, and not something that’s considered advanced technology anymore. But what if the scanner were your customers’ phone–and what if the database were the entire Internet?

Using the same technology as the scanner at the grocery store, your customer can quickly identify any item with a barcode–be it HD TV, a pack of gum or a bottle of beer. But in addition to pulling up the price, they can instantly access reviews, price comparisons, specifications and more. And now, with social barcode scanning apps –such as Barcode Hero– the customer can tap into information that is geared to them. For example, let’s say they walk into The Gap and try on a new pair of jeans. After scanning it with their iPhone, they could find out how much it costs at the store they’re in, how much it costs at AE down the road, how much it costs on eBay. Not only that, they can find out whether their friends already own it and whether they liked it or not.

It seems like something right out of “The Jetsons” but imagine a “smart fridge” that reads the QR code on every item you put in it and keeps a log of when your milk is going bad, how many eggs you have left and whether or not you’ve been eating too much ice cream.

While these predictions may not prove to be exactly spot on, barcodes and QR codes are poised to revolutionize the way we interact with physical items via our digital devices. 

2. Mobile Cards

The race is on to transform the iPhone into a wallet.

The Japanese call it osaifu keitai (cell-phone wallet). Flash your phone virtually anywhere you go for almost any purchase and it's immediately logged into a digital expense report. Purchase at Starbucks often? Tap your phone to pay and your all-in-one debit card/receipt tracker/loyalty program may instantly offer you 10% off.

Today, if you want to extend these benefits to your customers, you have to make these available to the Japan market. But after years of talk, wireless carriers are now actively working to transform Americans' iPhones into mobile wallets. Soon, Visa will release an iPhone case that makes the handset compatible with tap-to-pay consoles. Since customers are used to making online payment already it seems the next logical step is to get them into the habit of making transactions this way in the physical world.

3. Loyalty Programs

On a similar track as mobile cards, there is a huge opportunity to expand loyalty programs into the mCommerce channel considering how many people have an endless stream of reward, loyalty and program cards! And as convenient (and I use that word loosely) as the reward cards are, think about all the ways to provide an even easier experience to the customer.

With the customers’ iPhone in hand at all times, you could serve up very specific deals and rewards based on things such as location, their nearest retailer, time of day, their specific needs and shopping habits. This could be delivered in email, text message or as a voice message right on their device.

Loopt is developing a location-based "concierge" so smart (and potentially creepy) that it can offer a shampoo discount to shoppers browsing the hair-care aisle.

We don’t want to scare out customers, we just want to make their lives easier! And with the utilization and progress of codes, rewards and the ability to buy within a matter of minutes in the palm of their hands, you are most likely to not only see that customer come through your door, but they’ll continue to come back for more.


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