India is the fourth largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity and the 7th largest in terms of GDP. Moreover, India is ushering in an era of interconnectivity. With 884Mn mobile subscribers (TRAI: November 2011), a 21% YOY growth rate, most Indians would skip the internet generation and directly go mobile. Compounded with mobile growth, social media access is growing at a rapid rate. According to ourmobileplanet.com, 76% urban smart phone users accessed social networking sites on their mobile phones as opposed to 67% who accessed these sites on a laptop/desktop. The need for every retail business, big or small, is to focus on SoLoMo: Social, Local & Mobile.
In India, approximately 10% of the retail market is organised - the likes of Big Bazaar, Reliance Fresh etc. The remaining 90%, mostly single outlet retails stores have a modest or a near to nil marketing budget. This limits their marketing efforts to pamphlets in a local newspaper or small billboards in nearby areas. How can a local restaurant or a boutique fashion store leverage SoLoMo to differentiate itself from a store next door? Here is a list of free digital tools every retailer can work with to tap into the local market and get customers to walk in to their stores. Note: Tools have been listed in order of simplicity (in terms of tech expertise required to implement)
1. Google + Local
Formerly known as Google Places, it allows retail stores to create an address for its store/chain of stores. The store front is then represented on Google Maps (both desktop & mobile version) and within local Google searches.
Local Search: Google + Local Business Listing
Google+ Local is by far the best solution for a retail business to be present across multiple Google properties. Moreover, each listing can be Search Engine Optimized by using relevant business keywords. For e.g. a flower shop can put flowers, gift flowers, flowers home delivery, flowers bouquet etc. as specific keywords on which it’s listed on Google properties. To get started, visit google.com/places. On more tip – you can invite an official Google photographer to take pictures of your retail store. Starting with Hyderabad, Google would be creating virtual store fronts for all businesses that can be browsed in a map (street view).
2. AskMe.com, JustDial.com listing
Askme.com & JustDial.com are local, category based search engines. With millions of Indian stores / local businesses already listed on these sites, if you have not yet done so, you are missing the bus. Listings are either free or paid (weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual) and can be done in a jiffy. Once a listing is created online, it gets approved by a customer service representative and then goes public.
Askme.com with its ‘Sabka Number Ek’ television commercial has attracted the necessary business and consumer eyeballs.
JustDial.com has gone the celebrity way having roped in Amitabh Bachhan to advertise it’s 08888888888 number.
Askme.com has taken its web based businesses model to the phone, whereas JustDial which was initially a call in service has expanded its footprint to the web.
3. Listing on niche industry specific web sites / mobile apps:
If you are a restaurant, you need to be on zomato.com. If you are a retail business that hinges on night life, events or shopping, you need to be on burrp.com. Creating a business listing on burrp, zomato or the hyper local mobile app LocalBeat.in will definitely earn your business some brownie points. With customers actively writing reviews of your business, such sites create a fantastic avenue for getting feedback on customer service and other business offerings.
Local restaurant listings on burrp.com
Local restaurant listings on burrp.com
On burrp.com, you can add your local business to the myriad of listings that already exist. Moreover, you can add a phone number, menu (restaurant), and photos of your business.
Hyper Local Deals from Local Beat
4. In-store advertising:
Here is your opportunity to woo the customer to come back to your store for more. A lot of retailers in the US are using QR codes to drive traffic to web store fronts. Although QR code and image recognition in-store integrations are close to zero in India, most retailers should take this into consideration.
QR Code scanned by a consumer
Above: A customer scans a medicine box. This takes the user to a WAP site that shows her more information about the product, thus helping her to make an educated choice.
Creating a QR code is easy. Simply type in ‘QR Code generator’ in your Search engine and you will get a number of free QR Code creators.
QR Code Generator
Above: QR Code generated for aeropagus.in on qrcode.kaywa.com. Once created, you can use this QR code on product packages, in-store advertisements
5. Coupons & Deal sites
Have a compelling offer to lure your customers? Why not advertise on a Snapdeal.com or a crazeal.com? According to Comscore, Deal /Coupon sites have grown by X% in the last year.
Snapdeal.com, India’s leading couponing site offers city specific deals.
Once you list an offer online, the customer pays a portion of the deal value upfront to the website and then pays the remainder amount at your store. Moreover, you can create offers that can be redeemed only online or only at a store.
6. Foursquare check-ins
Café Coffee Day launched a promotion on Foursquare: A free coffee for a mayor and a discount to all members that checked-in to a CCD outlet in Bangalore.
FourSquare Check-Ins: Location Based Services
Foursquare, an app available for iOS and Android mobile devices is gaining popularity in India. For a retail business, foursquare provides endless possibilities. From creating special privileges for a mayor (person who has checked-in the most to a store) to offering discounts for other members, foursquare is the go to location based service worldwide.
To create a foursquare campaign for your local business, you need to first create a page. Get started here: foursquare.com/business/merchants
7. Accept mobile payments:
Airtel is pumping in a lot of money on television to popularize is ‘Airtel Money’ service. Mobile payments are set to take off with an active mobile internet population of 49 Million and growing. Other mobile service providers are gearing up to follow suit.
As a merchant, you can start accepting payments via mobile phones.Visit: here
Mobile Payments – Airtel Money
Now its your turn. How do you plan to go SoLoMo? Please provide your suggestions and feedback.
This article is authored by Mandar Marathe & is originally published here.
April 22, 2013, 5:55 am UTC
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