The RAMP Advanced Commerce & Mobile Retail Services Summit (known as the Retail RAMP Show) drew a number of retailers and mobile technology companies to St. Charles, Ill., April 15-17, as it delivered an in depth look at emerging payment models and platforms, including merchant coalitions and the growing number of mobile wallet options now flooding the market.
Through numerous back-to-back sessions, the conference gave an overview of how retailers are leveraging mobile and digital to enhance the customer experience and are moving towards omnichannel platforms. In addition to educational sessions, RAMP offered a show floor and ample networking time.
“The main reason I like to come to RAMP is there are a lot of innovative companies here and a lot of people on the fringe who are trying to push new concepts into the retail world,” noted Bill Deichler, operations manager, payment methods at Murphy Oil. “It’s a good collaborative conference where a lot of people are trying to develop business together instead of trying to sell each other. So the atmosphere is better for developing cooperative and collaborative efforts.”
While the RAMP show has a small petroleum presence, Deichler noted it is a good show for the petroleum industry to consider attending in greater numbers. “One of the problems we have in the convenience industry is we get too insular at times and we look only at ourselves, so coming into a conference like Retail RAMP from a convenience store perspective or operator standpoint gives you a fresh look outside our own network and I think that’s important at times to do.”
Earning Customer Loyalty
The c-store industry’s own Scott Shakespeare, general manager of brand advertising and promotions for Alon Brands/7-11, gave the keynote address on Wednesday.
He urged retailers to think in terms of honesty. “We keep asking, ‘How do we drive loyalty?’ But what we’re really saying is how do we make customers love us enough to be loyal?” He noted while retailers want customers to love their stores enough to be loyal, we can’t make someone love us. “Friends and family really bring out loyal feelings, but when was the last time you tried to drive traffic to family dinner?” he joked. Instead, he urged retailers to get into the mindset of serving their customers, and think in terms of what the customer wants instead of what we want.
“We want to collect data, analyze, drive traffic. But the customer wants to live life, buy stuff with their phone, have companies know enough to serve them better without knowing too much about them. True loyalty will always come from customers up to us, rather than something we push down on them. True loyalty can’t be bought,” he said.
In a session on Retail Marketing’s Seismic Shift From Interruption To Invitation, Brent Hieggelke, CMO, Urban Airship, echoed Shakespeare, noting if retailers want customers to download and keep their app, they need to move from “a transaction mindset to a relationship mindset.” Hieggelke encouraged retailers to use their mobile strategy to serve first, and sell later. He gave the example of a snowboard app that gave snowfall alerts so snowboarders could know where to find the best powder.
Moving Into Mobile
Doug Rozen, chief innovation officer at MXM and senior vice president/ general manager at MXM Mobile (formerly The Hyperfactory), who moderated a session on mobilizing your loyalty strategy, told CSD that while there is a lot of emphasis on payment right now, a wide range of other benefits exist with mobile and retailers would be wise to think in terms of how to create a compelling in-store experience using mobile. For example, other industries have leveraged mobile to provide conveniences, such as a mobile paint estimator at a hardware store, and even a virtual dressing room that upsells customers accessories and similar/corresponding items. He also encouraged retailers to reward customers not just for the money they spend, but for the time they spend, because people with high interactions at your store can become brand ambassadors for your chain.
Charlie Wiggs, senior vice president, business development for Mozido, told CSD that from what he’s seen, convenience stores are one of the next industries set to join the mobile world. Many are looking at where Starbucks is today, and noticing the loyalty their payment app is generating and thinking, “how do I do that?” Customer adoption is already here for mobile payment and Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts were among the first to jump into the mobile payment arena. Now the QSRs are entering the space, and c-stores are the next in line, already adopting strategies and speaking with vendors. For c-stores not yet certain about mobile as a strategy, Wiggs advised, “Just get in the game—put it out there and figure out the acceptance piece. Start with offers, then loyalty, then payment. It’s about building engagement.”
The next RAMP Show is scheduled for Oct. 16-18 in Chicago.