October 5, 2011, 4:18 PM

For multichannel retailers, check-ins offer a prime growth opportunity

Merchants should be experimenting with ways to leverage the mobile technology.

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Many multichannel retailers espouse the desire to create a true cross-channel or omni-channel shopping experience, but far fewer have actually achieved that goal, says Melissa Parrish, a Forrester Research Inc. analyst who covers emerging interactive channels such as mobile.

However, bricks-and-mortar retailers have a prime opportunity to bolster their cross-channel strategies by embracing mobile check-ins via foursquare and Facebook.

The programs work by awarding mobile users offers or special offers for using their smartphone to check-in at a physical store.

“This technology can tie online and offline behavior together,” Parrish says. “This has been the shiny object that everyone has been striving toward for years.”

Parrish will share examples of how retailers are successfully utilizing the services next Wednesday at Internet Retailer’s Mobile Commerce Forum 2011 in Houston during a session titled “Mastering location-based services” from 9-9:45 a.m.

“For some retailers this technology looks like it is delivering,” she says. “So for retailers that haven’t yet tried it out, it makes sense to test it and see what results they get. That way they’re ready when the market matures.

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