By David Hall, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Cutting-Edge Solutions

It’s interesting to see how smartphone use has affected sales for brick-and-mortar dealers. Many feel that it’s starting to hurt their businesses. Customers come into your store, examine your products, play your instruments and then shop online for cheaper prices. But for every negative, there’s a positive, and I feel that this trend creates numerous opportunities for music retailers.

As a follow-up to last month’s “Showrooming” article, I thought it would be helpful to further analyze smartphone usage and provide strategies for adapting your business to take advantage of this growing resource.

This past March, Frank A. Magid Associates published the results of a survey: “What consumers do each week on their smartphones.” Although shopping is not a consumer’s favorite activity, 15 million say they make a purchase via their mobile phone at least weekly. That’s a substantial amount of shoppers, which presents amazing sales potential for music retailers.

99.5 Percent Access Content/Information

Consumers are using their smartphones to collect information about the products they are considering purchasing. It’s not always a price issue. They are looking for reviews, as well as validation that they are making the right choices. Train your sales staff to spot smartphone users and provide them with valuable and relevant information about the product they’re considering. Use this interaction as an opportunity to inform them of the services you provide and reinforce the benefits of buying in your store.

63.1 Percent Access the Internet
That’s right…they’re surfing the Web right from your sales floor. Don’t be paranoid about this. Studies show that 17 percent of shoppers are visiting your Web site while in your store. Make it easy for them to find more information about the products they’re considering. Create QR codes for products and post them so they can be scanned and immediately linked to your Web site.

62.1 Percent Check E-mail
For an independent retailer, e-mail marketing is a cost-effective way to build relationships that drive success. Although it’s inexpensive to manage, the main advantage of e-mail marketing is actually not the cost: It’s simply the most effective way to stay in touch with the majority of your customers. It allows you to multiply yourself and keep in contact with people who are already the most likely to buy from you.

Encourage customers to sign up for your newsletters, and get into the habit of sending regular e-mails. Repetition is the key to successful e-mail marketing. Make sure that you include interesting content whenever possible.

51.4 Percent Use A Social Network
Constantly look for ways that you can add value to your social network presence. Perhaps you’re uploading video lessons. This is a great way to build repeat traffic. By carefully planning the lesson content, you could effectively seed your lesson program for years to come with a continual stream of new students and supportive parents. Film the progress of a select few, and then use that content to inspire prospective students and parents.

Create a video library of people you have interviewed within your online community and share their stories of how music has touched their lives. How about posting a detailed video diary of a complete guitar restoration? The key to engaging people and bringing them back is in those uncovered nuggets of information (many right under your nose) that your network participants will find interesting.

49.2 Percent Listen to Music
Although this might not be a preferred activity while standing on your sales floor, it’s important to remind your customers that you are the go-to resource in helping them create music. Emphasize your lesson programs, clinics, new product demonstrations and support. Set up a monitor and play videos of your customer testimonials, recitals, band concerts, etc.

46 Percent Play Games
This is another activity that might not be something the average smartphone user is doing on your sales floor. However, why not find a way to reward customers who play music-related games? Sponsor an in-store tournament and reward the top finishers with fabulous prizes. Find ways to reward all participants for their involvement. Offer free pizza and soda, a free set of strings, free drumsticks, etc. Enter everyone in a larger contest for his or her chance to win something special. Run the tournament over a period of weeks or months and create a weekly social event in your store. Bars do this with softball leagues. So, why not music stores with Guitar Hero?

41.7 Percent Download And Use Apps
Create a list of recommended music apps and post it in your store. Focus on the two or three that can inspire users to become music makers, and then run clinics. DJ apps are especially popular. Run clinics for getting the most out of these apps and up sell to DJ gear. Smart retailers constantly find ways to tie apps into the products and services they provide.

15 Percent Make Purchases
Overall, Web surfing from a laptop or desktop computer still dominates as the preferred vehicle for online shopping. However, 15 percent of all smartphone users make at least one purchase per week. This interesting statistic presents unique opportunities for music retailers.

99.5 percent of smartphone users are looking for information, and 15 percent make weekly purchases. This might indicate that impulse buys are on the rise. Another interpretation is that consumers are finding the information they need to validate their buying decisions and are more motivated to complete the purchase on the spot.
One demographic that you can immediately target are parents with kids in school. According to Accenture, in a July 2011 survey of 624 online adults with children in school, price and convenience lead parents to shop online.

Why not make it easy for parents to buy their kids’ music-related school supplies online? Create and post lists of required music supplies with QR codes for each school. This can link right to your Web site and streamline the purchase.

Smartphones can actually help you close sales. Shoppers feel better about their purchasing decisions after they receive validation. They need to feel confident before placing their trust in you. If you make it easy for people to get the information they need to make good buying decisions, you’ll earn their business.

David Hall is Vice President – Sales & Marketing for Cutting-Edge Solutions. Their eCommerce products, The Generator and Pro-Active Websites, are utilized by leading vendors and retailers within the music products industry. Contact him at and visit him at NAMM Booth #4323.

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