From Windows to Screens: How Mobile is Changing the Traditional Retail Shopping Experience

sonya-headshotMobile has shaken up the high street and what has emerged is a customer journey that starts well before we enter a shop.  From pre-shopping to showrooming and eventual transaction, retailers have a whole range of new opportunities to engage with their customers.   Here, Sonya Furdyk, Marketing & Communications Coordinator for JUICE Mobile looks at how mobile is changing the retail experience and examines what retailers can do to embrace the ongoing mobile revolution.

Shopping used to be a leisurely activity with little distraction. Sales were advertised through in-store display banners and word-of-mouth by window shoppers looking for a good deal.  Technology has challenged this traditional retail experience as consumers lives have gotten busier and they have less time to shop in-store. Smartphones have given way to real-time shopping, price comparison and product reviewing, eliminating the need to even leave the house. Mobile devices are now a tool to find exactly what we want when we want it.

80% of consumers abandon a mobile site if they have a bad user experience and 67% of mobile users are more likely to purchase from a mobile-friendly site. This has given retailers a shock, forcing them to adapt to the mobile ecosystem far more quickly than any other market. The consumer demand for mobile shopping has caused retailers to take advantage of mobile in order to enhance the shopping experience and increase consumer loyalty. Here are the ways that mobile shoppers are using their devices during the shopping process and why retailers need to adopt a mobile strategy in order to provide a modernized shopping experience:

Pre-shopping:

Mobile Shopping blog pic2Before consumers enter a store, they use their devices to perform various tasks and inquiries. A Google Shopper Marketing Council study found that 90% of smartphone owners use their devices for pre-shopping activities. These included actions such as finding promotional offers (44%), making price comparisons (44%), finding locations and directions (58%) and checking product availability (31%). The idea that consumers can do so much before they even enter a brick and mortar is worrisome to retailers that do not have solutions for shoppers on their website. Further, these retailers may not have a mobile optimized site or app that will provide their shoppers with a positive pre-shopping experience. This usually results in the shopper moving on to a retailer that can provide these resources. A retailer’s app or mobile site needs to provide some kind of utility to the consumer so that their needs are met before they even enter a store.

Showrooming:

For those who may not be familiar with this term, showrooming is a fairly recent trend that has resulted from both competitive consumer purchasing and their use of mobile devices. The act of showrooming is when a consumer visits a retailers physical store location and uses their device to evaluate products and prices using their device, knowing that they may purchase it another time for a better price or even from a different retailer. The recent Mobile Life Study by TNS concluded that 33% of global smartphone owners have practiced showrooming. IDC also predicts that 59 million U.S. shoppers will use their smartphones to showroom in 2013. Ecommerce giant Amazon debuted a price checking app for consumers to find the best price for a desired product. Showrooming is a major threat to retailers who are not mobile because they are losing business to consumers who are in-store at the point of purchase – but not actually buying anything.

Purchasing:

Mobile shopping blog infographic

According to eMarketer, mobile purchases in the U.S. via smartphones and tablets increased 81% from 2011 to 2012. Mobile also accounted from 11% of ecommerce sales in the U.S. in 2012, approximately $25 billion, and is expected to jump to 15% in 2013. Online payment providers like PayPal and apps such as Google Wallet are making mobile transactions less of a hassle for consumers. Storing credit card and shipping information, these services reduce the number of clicks to purchase, input of information and shopping cart abandonment for shoppers. The biggest efficiency is that mobile shopping can be done virtually anywhere, any time of the day. Recently, tablets are playing a much larger role as a new retail platform and purchasing device. eMarketer predicts that purchases made on tablets are expected to increase to 65% of all  U.S. sales made on mobile devices.

As technology advances to make mobile shopping easier, the importance for brick and mortar retailers to increase their purchasing capabilities on mobile is critical in order to keep their business in line with consumer demand. With the capability of these devices to make purchases, consumers have become even more focused on finding the best deal. With showrooming making in-store purchases more competitive brick and mortar retailers will often offer device specific sales to its mobile users and entice them with add-ons and reduced shipping costs. It has also been proven that frequent mobile users purchase more than in-store shoppers. Google found that the top basket size between standard smartphone shoppers and frequent smartphone shoppers increased the most in the health and beauty (50%), appliance (40%) and electronic (34%) departments.

Retail Experience:

Now that the need for retailers to be mobile has been addressed, there are some big players doing mobile right. Most major retailers are now offering free in-store Wi-Fi to enhance the experience for shoppers that may not have a data plan on their smartphone. A Google study revealed that 1 in 3 shoppers will actually turn to their devices in-store instead of asking an employee. This emphasizes the need for mobile to enhance the shopping experience and be a rich and easy to use platform. Through apps and mobile sites, retailers have the opportunity to notify a consumer about sales, coupons and contests via their smartphone.

Target’s app is a great example of an optimal retail experience. The app gives shoppers the ability to shop and make purchases through the app, as well as a positive and efficient overall in-store mobile experience. It lets users find store locations, hours, create shopping lists, access mobile flyers, weekly ads and coupons. It also makes shopping more efficient; the app allows shoppers to scan barcodes of items using their smartphone camera to display real-time prices, look up ratings and reviews while zooming in on product photos as well as being able to track and refill prescriptions right from their device.

Other retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart, Nordstrom and Walgreens are also providing their shoppers with rich mobile experiences on mobile optimized sites as well as within apps.

Mobile is the fastest growing medium that we have ever seen. Generally, the content produced around mobile pegs mobile as a curse to brick and mortar retailers when it is actually a blessing. Mobile complements and amplifies the shopping journey and retailers need to make mobile a large part of their overall marketing strategy in order to have continued industry success.

Sonya Furdyk is Marketing & Communications Coordinator for JUICE Mobile – follow JUICE Mobile on Twitter

Comments

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Trackbacks

  1. […] a fact for you: 59 million U.S. shoppers used their smartphones to “showroom” in 2013. Showrooming is when a consumer goes into a physical retail environment, window shops, and then […]

  2. […] a fact for you: 59 million U.S. shoppers used their smartphones to “showroom” in 2013. Showrooming is when a consumer goes into a physical retail environment, window shops, and then […]

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