How Mobile Will Save Retail

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It’s no secret that people love their mobile devices. In fact, 91% of adults keep their phones within arm’s reach. And that was as of 2007. The percentage probably hasn’t gone down.

The smartphone is our helper, assistant, resource, guide and friend. We talk to the device itself (hi, Siri!), snap and share pictures of products we sort-of like while scanning barcodes to compare prices on the winners. Our smartphones help us be better, more informed shoppers. And 74% of us already use our mobile devices while shopping.

Yet we continue to see resistance to moving media budgets to mobile.


Leverage Location And Measurability Of Mobile
Smart retailers are beginning to embrace mobile trends that will ensure their success in the next wave of technological innovation.

One of the largest impediments to understanding the return on investment in mobile has been measurement. The first trend is to use the always-on, location-aware abilities of smartphones to execute measurable marketing campaigns that drive people into stores.

Here are three ideas to use this data to help measure ROI more accurately, boost store traffic and increase retail sales.

  1. Measure the value of a mobile marketing campaign in driving foot traffic. Research shows that only 17% of mobile shoppers complete their purchase on the phone, while 45% purchase online via tablet, PC or laptop, and 82% will purchase in-store. The value in a mobile campaign is not just the direct purchase of product post click (the easiest way to track); most of the value is in getting someone into a store.
    New media vendors like PlaceIQ have created ways to measure the visit rate a mobile campaign generates. They show non-branded ads to a control group while showing branded ads to a test group. The difference in visitation to the brand’s retail store — identified through the location of the smartphone — demonstrates the incremental traffic increase the mobile campaign has generated. This is one step on the path toward the future of mobile measurement.
  2. The 45% of mobile shoppers who purchase through a device other than their smartphone can also be measured. The latest technology from media vendors such as TapAd and can associate different devices owned by an individual (or sometimes a household) to a single anonymous ID. This device graph can deliver insight into the purchase path of online users who research on their phone, but complete the purchase while sitting on the couch with their tablet or laptop. Understanding this rate is critical to giving full credit to the mobile media campaign.
  3. New technologies can associate a home address with a mobile device. Media vendors such as 4Info are able to target specific phones that match a customer or prospect address — while keeping personally identifiable information from the advertiser. This capability extends the direct marketing team’s reach into new communication opportunities. And it certainly adds data for more accurate sales attribution metrics.

Go Mobile-First – And Be Mobile Everywhere
The second major trend is to integrate mobile devices into the full shopping experience. Mobile commerce will reach $31 billion by 2017. But that’s just part of the story. Mobile devices will play a much bigger role in purchase research, comparison shopping, social sharing and inventory management. Here are five tactics to make this trend work for you:

  1. Make your web site friendly to mobile devices. Many retail web sites are still discouragingly difficult to use on a mobile phone or tablet. Up to 42% of smartphone users rely on their device solely for pre-purchase research — so make it work! We continue to see videos and even images that don’t work across operating systems, confusing buy flows, slow-loading sites and other indicators that the retailer doesn’t care about the mobile shopper. Don’t be that guy.
  2. Make your emails work on phones. More than 60% of emails are read on a mobile device. If you send emails to customers, you have to use responsive design or recipients will never respond to your offers.
  3. Create a mobile app that adds value to the shopping experience. Retailers like Starbucks and Amazon use mobile apps to bring inventory, discovery, comparison, account management and share-ability to the device. Make sure the features of the app add to the shopping experience and connect the user closer to the brand. For example, I’d love to see an app from a large retailer that recognizes I’m in their store and can give me a store map to find my way around.
  4. Arm your floor staff with tablets. This tactic is a straight steal from the Apple stores, but can be applied to any store environment. Giving floor staff the ability to immediately find out what is in-stock or not, where items are located and even check out purchases on the floor of the store is a win.
  5. Get on board with mobile wallets. Worldwide mobile payment transaction value will exceed $235.4 billion in 2013, which is a 44% increase over 2012, according to Gartner. While the U.S. lags behind countries such as Japan and South Korea — it is gaining rapidly and you need to get in front of this trend.

It’s time to make mobile-first marketing a priority in retail. Mobile devices drive both online and offline traffic — and soon will become a primary driver of sales. Technological advances in mobile location awareness create opportunities for better measurement — and greater success — in mobile campaigns.

Consumers now expect more from their mobile devices in the research and buying process. And tech-forward retailers are embracing the smartphone as an extension of the customer. The retailers who do the best job at serving customers in the mobile context will thrive in the new age of the always-connected consumer.


Scott Fasser is Hacker Group’s Digital Account Director. He has vast experience in data analytics, digital marketing, consumer technology, internet advertising, e-Commerce, web site development, and more.

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