Consumers are relying more on their mobile devices to communicate, research products and acquire information. As a result, retailers need to prioritize mobile as a key communication and engagement channel.
After all, more than 90% of consumers use their smartphones while shopping in retail stores, according to a survey from SessionM. While more than approximately 54% of consumers use their devices to compare prices, others search for product information (48.4%) and reviews (42%).
Although smartphones now giving consumers immediate access to vital product information, the brick-and-mortar store still adds value by allowing consumers to touch and try on products before they make a final decision.
“Consumers still find in-store shopping to be an easier experience because they have the ability to try on and touch things,” said Patrick Reynolds, VPof Marketing at SessionM. “In the future, retailers need to innovate ways to simulate physical interactions with items that resemble those of the in-store experience as closely as possible.”
To conduct the study, titled: Retail Shopping: Connecting The Multichannel Shopper, SessionM fielded an eight-question mobile survey to more than 12,000 randomly selected smartphone users from June 12 to June 26. The study was designed to help retailers better understand how consumers shop and the role that smartphones specifically play in the buying journey.
Retailers that make their web sites, products, prices, coupons and loyalty programs accessible via mobile devices can realize a number of benefits, including improved customer engagement, sales and loyalty. Supporting this point, 57% of consumers said they would be likely to shop at a store if they received messages or push notifications about relevant deals and coupons while shopping at that store. More importantly, 77% of respondents said they are more likely to shop at a store that has a loyalty program.
“Retailers can leverage first-party consumer data to send messages or push notifications about deals and coupons while someone is in the store shopping,” Reynolds said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “With mobile, everything becomes real-time. Customer experience surveys can be launched while customers are still in the store, making feedback more relevant, accurate and in the moment.”
By leveraging beacon technology, retailers also can send relevant messages while customers move throughout the store, according to Reynolds. Retailers can then “measure what [consumers] engage with and disengage with, and eventually close the purchasing loop. Next time customers are in the store, the retailer knows their habits and shopping methods to personalize their experience even more.”
Mobile Commerce To Reach An All-Time High
Despite mobile’s growing role in the store experience, more consumers are expected to use their devices to purchase products through 2015. Nearly all (85%) respondents said their mobile buying frequency has either remained the same or increased over the pas year. Approximately 41% said their mobile buying frequency had increased, while 15% said they purchased items via mobile significantly more often. Consumers who don’t purchase items with their mobile devices said they were concerned about the security of their personal information. Other respondents said the small product images made them insecure about their purchase decisions.
Due to the surge in mobile sales, “many retailers are investing more heavily in mobile shopping apps in addition to their mobile-optimized web sites,” Reynolds explained. “Consumers often prefer mobile apps because the experience tends to be more personalized thanks to the customer data brands are able to gather and incorporate.”
The study concluded that although retailers have access to basic customer demographics, they can only truly access a full picture of the customer journey if they understand mobile shopping behaviors. Now that companies can access this first-party data, they can better connect online and offline channels, as well as analyze offer effectiveness and optimize outreach to increase sales and loyalty.