Augmented Reality works a treat for Retailers
If you’ve recently noticed more people staring at their phones, wandering by your storefront, and appearing as though they’re taking pictures, congratulations — you’re now roped into the world of Pokémon GO, a new augmented reality smartphone game that’s rocketed into popularity and become nothing short of a cultural phenomenon.
Try not to think of Pokémon GO players as a nuisance, but rather local shoppers who haven’t yet interacted with your business. Added foot traffic from Pokémon GO is your opportunity to make a positive first impression with potential customers
L'inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City in New York claims its sales jumped 75 percent over the weekend by activating a "lure module" feature that attracts virtual Pokemon characters to the store, thereby tempting in nearby players. The store's manager spent $10 to have a dozen Pokemon characters placed in the location, according to a report in the New York Post.
That sort of instant effect is a potential threat for Groupon Inc, LivingSocial Inc, Foursquare and other relatively new companies which have revolutionised online marketing for small businesses in the last few years.
Pokemon GO's instant popularity appears to be the result of nostalgia for the classic 20-year-old cartoon franchise and players' desire to win kudos within the game by capturing as many characters as possible.
The popularity of Pokemon GO threatens companies like Foursquare, which has a service called Swarm offering coupons and prizes to customers who "check in" at participating venues, and social e-commerce sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, which many businesses use as a vehicle to offer discount deals. Such "daily deal" sites get a cut every time a customer buys a retailer's coupon.
Groupon and LivingSocial were not immediately available for a comment. Foursquare said it was too soon to tell the impact of Pokemon GO. Marketing experts said small businesses may increasingly turn to Pokemon GO - and redirect some of their marketing spend - as the mobile game racks up a bigger user base.
Use the Lure | Lures are special items that can be added to Pokéstops. They work by attracting Pokémon to an area and making them easier to catch. If your business is near any Pokéstops, purchase (with in-game currency) a few lures and attach them to the nearest ones. One lure module, which is valid for half an hour, costs only $1. That's a relatively small investment to see a potential spike in foot traffic. If using Lures correctly almost any impulse purchase or commodity type business might do well using Pokemon Go. This can be anything from a fast food restaurant, to a coffee shop, a gas station, any mall store, etc.
You may need to be at a certain level in-game to purchase items, but with a game this addicting, that probably won’t be a problem. Once you’re able, here’s a quick walkthrough on how to add lures to Pokéstops.
Players can see how many lures are active in any given area, and they’ll flock to places that present a high probability of easy catches. If you’re quick about it, the added foot traffic can seriously boost business. Now that you’ve got players in your area, you’ll need to capitalize on them.
Pokémon GO players are lacking one very important aspect of their Pokemon experience - battery life. The game takes advantage of smartphones’ GPS, graphics processor, and camera in order create a truly involving augmented reality experience, which means players can’t search for too long without a boost (or a battery pack). If Pokémon GO foot traffic is high in your area, stock up on a few extra chargers or batteries from your local dollar store and offer a boost to weary travellers on a sign or sandwich board.
Now that players are literally linked to your business via USB, you can chinwag with them about the game, explain to them how to preserve battery while playing, chat about your products, or even proposition a discount or coupon code. They’ll also likely be famished from walking around all day, so if your business offers refreshments, this would be a HUGE opportunity for an upsell.
Some storeowners have taken the not-so-subtle approach of mandating that players make a purchase while collecting Pokémon in store. Players are there to play rather than spend, a softer sell is a more viable option here. This is an opportunity to start a positive affiliation with a new set of potential leads that can quite possibly turn into regular customers. So, rather than turning them away, retailers can pique their interest with Pokémon-related swag and promos like:
Offer promotions for players.
Get creative and offer promotions that sways players to make a purchase. You can also use beacon technology to send special promotions to the smartphones of targeted customers within walking distance.
Spread the word on social.
Is there a Pokéstop nearby, or has a particularly rare Pokémon been sighted in your store? Or perhaps you're running a special promotion for players? Share the news with your followers on social media to let your networks know.
Incentivise players to join your mailing list.
When players are in store collecting their Pikachus and Eevees, ask them to join your email list. Offer updates on player discounts, news on related products, or send out a special email with a "Sighting of the Day" section to highlight one Pokémon caught in store. This opens a direct line of communication to current and prospective customers and increases the likelihood that they'll return.
The Pokemon GO craze - and potential for further revenue from third parties - has sent Nintendo's shares skyrocketing since the game's debut on Thursday, adding nearly $10 billion to the company's market value.
Sources: Reuters, Forbes, Shopify, Nintendo