As smartphone sales proliferate, largely due to their increased availability and affordability, consumers are utilizing mobile phones more frequently to research potential purchases, prices and ratings/reviews.
In fact, smartphones currently influence 5.1% of annual retail store sales, translating to $159 billion in forecasted sales for 2012, according to new research from Deloitte Consulting. This total is expected to grow to 19%, or $689 billion in brick-and-mortar transactions by 2016.
Titled The Dawn Of Mobile Influence: Discovering The Value Of Mobile In Retail, Deloitte’s consumer research sought to pinpoint mobile’s overall influence on in-store sales, and “size-up how valuable mobile is as an in-store tool for retailers today,” Kasey Lobaugh, Direct-to-Consumer and Retail Multichannel Leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP, told Retail TouchPoints.
“We think very few retailers truly know how to leverage mobile in their overall customer engagement strategies,” Lobaugh said. “Our hypothesis was that the real value of mobile is as a tool in the store, rather than an extension of the e-Commerce site.”
The mobile survey was conducted online via a poll of 1,041 random consumers nationwide between March 20, 2012, and March 30, 2012. The sample was augmented with an additional random selection of 1,557 smartphone owners.
Overall, 48% of smartphone owners said their devices have influenced their decision to purchase an item in a store, according to survey results. Moreover, 61% of smartphone subscribers who have used their devices to shop have done so while in a store.
Because smartphones offer instant access to in-depth information on items and brands via search engines, web sites and social networks, shoppers who use their devices in stores are more likely to complete a purchase, results revealed.
When asked about their most recent shopping trip, 72% of smartphone owners indicated they made a purchase on that day, compared with 63% of shoppers who did not tap into their devices within the same period.
To keep pace with this evolution, retailers must “determine how they can take advantage of these changing consumer behaviors,” Lobaugh explained, “and determine how they can utilize mobile more effectively.”
Retailers are looking at consumers’ cross-channel shopping behaviors too simplistically and that they’re utilizing only one specific channel, Lobaugh explained. “But the truth is that consumers are using smartphones to make complex decisions, and retailers need to be able to serve them at that point of decision-making,” he stated. “Retailers must evolve in how they think about digital. It’s not a separate business exposed through the company web site, but a fundamental capability that they need to expose whenever a customer is making a decision.”
The Vertical Influence
However, consumers’ overall smartphone usage and mobile’s influence on in-store purchase decisions depend largely on item vertical, Lobaugh reported. “The overall decision-making process differs depending on the consumer, shopping trip, and where that consumer is in the shopping journey,” he explained. “However, our data reaffirms that the more information retailers provide to consumers in store aisles, the more influential they’ll be, leading to more conversions.”
Frequency of in-store smartphone usage based on retail category is as follows:
Furniture/Home Furnishing (58.7%)
Sporting Goods, Toys, Hobby (56.7%)
“There’s no denying the fact that consumers are becoming more tech-savvy and want more knowledge and information at the point of decision-making,” Lobaugh said. “Retailers can either stick their heads in the sand and complain that in-store mobile shopping is a threat, or combat aggressively to defend against it and win in that dimension.”
Click here to receive additional information on Deloitte’s survey findings.