Bring Your Business To The Next Level – News from the NRF Show: M-Commerce – by Rick Segel

January 14th, 2010 by

Earlier this week, I attended the National Retail Federation show in NYC.  This was a very exciting event, focused on the latest, greatest trends in retailing and what that means to the independent retailer.

As I walked the floor, two things became immediately apparent.  One is that there is clearly, despite the effects of the recession, still plenty of business to be had.  Investment and innovation in retailing has NOT dropped off, despite what the nay-sayers have been crying for a while now.

The second trend is the steadily increasing role technology is playing in connecting the independent retailer with their customer base.  The buzz-word at the show was m-commerce, for mobile commerce: marketing initiatives delivered via cell phone. We’re seeing the advent of downloadable coupons and special offers in text messages.

What does that mean for the antique dealer?

It presents a prime opportunity for some strategic thinking.  Customers are, right now, being trained by other retailers — and we’ll see this trend start first in the entertainment and grocery area, expanding from there into other industries — to expect to be marketed to in this fashion.

It’s time to think about how you’re going to meet that expectation.  I think one of the greatest opportunities for antique dealers here is coordinating efforts, either with a chamber of commerce or tourism board, to engage in mobile marketing to visitors to your community.  When they’re searching your locale online (and industry research tells us now that the average tourist spends AT LEAST four hours researching their vacation destinations online) there needs to be an opportunity for them to connect with you.  By offering them a way to text (or Tweet, as the case may be) “Antiques” to a specific number, you’re creating an opportunity to send them marketing messages — a short blurb about what your store specializes in, any promotions you might be running, the unique and amazing merchandise they’ll see if they come to you.

The same technique can be used and adapted by posting a sign outside of your store: “Text (number) to find out about our latest finds and special deals!” When they text, you send them a link to a page on your website, updated with your latest and greatest.  This is particularly appealing to those of you who are handling items customers ‘hunt’ for — you may find yourself with users who check the site weekly, if not daily.

Consider having mobile specific offers.  Bear in mind that the customers you’re reaching this way are likely to be slightly more wealthy and well-educated than the random customer; they’re not only technologically savvy but very engaged in the shopping process.

These are customers who are seeking EXPERIENCES as much as merchandise, so frame your marketing messages accordingly.  Identify what makes your store special and unique, and present that.  The customer who is receiving these type of messages may be reading six, seven, twelve texts relevant to your area: you want to stand out!

About the author: Rick Segel is the author of The Retail Business Kit for Dummies and a nationally recognized retail speaker.  You can find out more at