As the popularity of the ecommerce sector has continued to affect traditional retail sales, many believe that the growth of mobile technology has been another nail in the coffin for brick-and-mortar shopping. But according to Anindya Ghose, a professor at the New York University’s Stern School of Business, smartphones might just be the key to saving the struggling retail industry. In a new book, Ghose explains how mobile tech creates new opportunities for traditional retailers to engage customers by harnessing the power of data. And there’s plenty of additional research to back up his beliefs. According to Deloitte Consulting, digital interactions influence 56 cents of every dollar spent in brick-and-mortar stores—as many consumers are now using their mobile phones to research products, compare prices and download coupons while shopping. Retail Dive’s latest Consumer Survey reinforced the power of mobile technology, revealing key insights on how 603 consumers surveyed use their smartphones while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. One thing is clear: it’s more important than ever before for retailers to offer a seamless integration between their physical and mobile shopping experiences.
According to the Retail Dive Consumer Survey, the smartphone is an essential part of shopping these days. This is especially true for customers under 35, who are often more willing to consult their mobile phone than the store associate when they have questions. But it’s growing more and more important to older shoppers as well, who are more likely to use their phones to access digital coupons.
According to the most recent Retail Dive Consumer Survey, 58% of the consumers surveyed said they use their smartphone in stores to research product information—with nearly as many consumers using them to check or compare prices. Nearly 40% of consumers use their phones to access digital coupons in stores. A third of consumers surveyed said they used a specific retailer’s mobile app while in the store—compared to the just 22% of shoppers who said they would scan QR codes.
This underscores just how important it is to have a comprehensive mobile strategy, one that allows consumers to easily check in online while shopping in-store and vice versa. It also reveals some of the improvements that can be made offline as well.
First, product information and pricing needs to be communicated more clearly in store, whether in the form of POS signage, kiosks, pamphlets or displays. Secondly, it shows a new opportunity to provide more value for consumers on their mobile phones—a chance to engage with them where they’re already going. By making sure your website is mobile-friendly (one that is filled with detailed product descriptions, personalized sales offers and easy-to-access ratings and reviews), you can provide your customers with all of the convenience of shopping online without having to sacrifice rest-testing.
The growing power of mobile technology also opens up new opportunities for more tech-savvy retailers as well. Department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have begun to leverage “geofencing” technology by installing GPS beacons in stores. This allows the retailers to engage with consumers when they’re close to a store, sending them specialized coupons or deals directly.
More and more retailers are shifting their focus towards enriching their mobile strategy, with more than half citing it as one of their “top three priorities in 2017,” according to a new report from the National Retail Federation. As the retail industry evolves to best support their customers, those retailers who are not leveraging mobile technology are in danger of being left behind.
This article originally appeared in Sleep Retailer eNews on June 8, 2017
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