The mobile high street is here, is your business at risk of missing out?

Like it or not, the mobile high street is here. Large high street retailers have, for some while, realised that their customers’ obsession with smart phones offers a huge opportunity. To capitalise on this, the vast majority are heavily investing in creating a mobile customer experience, from mobile loyalty and offers to ordering and payments.

The following reviews, from real customers in the app store, show just why businesses are pumping massive budgets in to mobile and why they are using it as a way to delight, surprise and reward their loyal shoppers.

“Love it! So quick and easy and no more lost stamp cards!”

“Love this app, convenient to order and it tracks your pizza with great humour, excellent stuff!”

“I love not having to keep track of my gift card. I love that there are nutrition facts. Double win!”

These large retailers heavily promote their apps in-store, often with an incentive to encourage download, and it’s working. Ultimately this is leaving smaller Traders at risk of being left behind as their customers start to date the bigger boys behind their back.

So what are the big high street retailers doing with mobile? Why are consumers embracing an increasingly mobile high street? And what does this mean for the UK’s small and independent Traders?

Let’s start by breaking down what some of the bigger players are doing on today’s mobile high street here in the UK…

dominos mobile app - mobile high streetDomino’s

Domino’s started focusing heavily on mobile in 2011 and they now have more than 850 stores in the UK alone. They are seen as a leader in mobile customer communications and have launched a range of market first innovations which include ordering by emoji (a pizza emoji, naturally) and ‘zero click’.

What do they do?

What started off as an online strategy has now rapidly moved to a mobile one with Domino’s now encouraging and incentivizing their customers to download and order via their app. The app provides full menus, store locators and home delivery or takeaway order functions. It also stores your previous orders so repeat orders can be made at the touch of a button.

Has it been a success?

More than 11 million downloads of their app with customers particularly liking how easy it is to order their favourite pizza.

all bar one mobile app - mobile high streetAll Bar One

Launched in 2016, All Bar One’s loyalty app rewards customers for purchasing coffee, food and alcohol (of course). All Bar One want it to be used as an all-day social planner.

What do they do?

It’s not just loyalty – customers get birthday treats, regular offers and can pre-order tables all via the app.

Has it been a success?

Over 100k downloads isn’t bad for an app in a sector not traditionally known for its use of paper stamp card loyalty.

nandos mobile app - mobile high streetNando’s

Nando’s phased out their popular paper stamp cards in 2014 and replaced them with a plastic card and app combo. They decided to make the move in to mobile and ‘take their marketing to the next level’ after research discovered their customers ‘wanted more from their reward options and kept on losing their cards’.

What is it?

App which includes a spend based loyalty scheme and order ahead. Customers receive a point (or chilli) for every £7 they spend and get free or discounted food when they reach a certain number of points. The app is linked to a plastic card that is swiped every time the make a purchase.

Has it been a success?

Over 1 million downloads. Customers enjoy being able to monitor their points and get extra rewards but there has been some frustration at still having to carry a plastic card around.

caffe nero mobile app - mobile high streetCaffe Nero

The last of the big high street coffee retailers in the UK to move away from paper stamp cards, Nero launched their own branded app in April 2017. Paper stamp cards are still available for customers who choose not to change but Nero are encouraging their customers to make the move to mobile.

What do they do?

Currently a very simple app replacement for the paper stamp cards which rewards customers with a free coffee after collecting 9 stamps. Customers can also use the app to pay for their drinks. And Nero will be using the data to recognise when someone is coming less frequently and incentivise them with free stamps.

Has it been a success?

Too early to tell but the simplicity of use has been widely praised by their customers.

starbucks mobile app - mobile high streetStarbucks

Last but not least is Starbucks. This is probably the most well-known example of how big high street brands are embracing mobile and using it to transform their business. Starbucks launched their My Rewards app in 2011 as a replacement for their loyalty stamp cards and it has evolved in to an order ahead, payments and gifting tool that is used by over 20 million customers.

What do they do?

Their My Rewards mobile app allows customers to accumulate points every time they make a purchase and get rewarded for their loyalty. Customers can also use the app to order ahead and avoid queuing, pay for their purchases and get ongoing freebies and discounts.

Has it been a success?

Nearly 25% of all transactions are paid using the My Rewards app and its popularity among customers has led to their CEO to say:

“No single competency is enabling us to elevate the Starbucks brand more than our global leadership in mobile, digital, and loyalty. Starbucks is a clear leader in mobile payments and we are encouraged by how consumers have embraced mobile apps as a way to pay.”

What does this mobile high street mean for small & independent Traders?

The move to a mobile high street has brought massive trade boons for big retailers as it drives business efficiencies and repeat custom. Customers who love ordering, paying and getting rewarded by mobile are now expecting this type of shopping experience everywhere they go, even making decisions on where to shop based on the mobile options available to them.

A simple paper loyalty stamp card is beginning to look antiquated and independent traders of all sizes need to ensure they don’t lose ground in the hard-fought battle for loyal customers.

As a government report on the state of the UK high street declared:

‘Mobile innovation is leading to a growing digital divide on the UK High Street. Smaller retailers, who bring colour, diversity and community to our high streets, are being left behind simply because they lack the skills and resources to develop and implement tools themselves.”

Some further reading

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