Although mobile adoption is continuing to grow at a rapid rate; retailers have a long way to go to fully exploit it. The smartphone is now a ‘weapon of mass consumerism’; the powerful pocket tool has taken the power away from retailers and places it firmly in the hands of consumers.
How do retailers now develop their commerce strategy to reclaim some of this power and, crucially, gain an edge on their competitors? By identifying how consumers are using mobile devices to assist purchases, businesses can develop their mobile commerce strategies to maximise the impact of their mobile presence on high street purchases.
A recent study by Pew American & Internet Life Project found over 50% of adults go online with their phones, with 45% of 18-29 year olds doing most of their retail browsing online. Our craving for convenience is driving this – mobile means ‘always available’ and for many is now the only consideration when deciding how to fill ‘dead time’ (commuting, relaxing etc).
Digging a little deeper, the vital statistic for retailers is that more than half of people used mobiles to assist with purchasing decisions. Retailers are reacting slowly, if at all, to the opportunities this presents.
A separate Pew study unearthed some telling truths about consumers relying on their mobiles while in a store:
- 38% used their phone to call a friend while they were in a store for advice about a purchase they were considering making
- 24% used their phone to look up reviews of a product online while they were in a store
- 25% used their phones to look up the price of a product online while they were in a store, to see if they could get a better price somewhere else.
Taken together, over half of all adult mobile owners used their phone for at least one of these three reasons over the Christmas shopping season and one third used their phone specifically for online information while inside a physical store—either product reviews or pricing information.
As retailers clock on to the fact that mobile is an increasingly integrated element of the buying process, we are seeing early attempts to lure consumers with mobile-based incentive programs. This includes discount coupons, loyalty/rewards services, as well as various adaptations and combinations of the two.
A recent study by the Mercator Advisory Group, however, revealed that while many users are intrigued by the concept of coupons, most have not actually used them. 49% of users would consider replacing physical loyalty cards with an app, but only 4% have followed through; and of the 45% who like the idea of storing coupons on a mobile, just 2% have done so. The statistics continue with the unwavering trend that consumers are not committing to the enticement of quick, easy deals and discounts.
Retailers are failing to take advantage of the power of mobile marketing and mobile commerce by not effectively integrating and promoting incentives such as mobile coupons and mobile applications. Considering the technology that already exists, the responsibility to capitalise on the opportunities in boosting revenues and strengthening a brand with an effective mobile presence lies with the marketing team rather than the IT department.
Retailers are likely to see success by embracing consumers’ shrewd use of mobile by using techniques such as encouraging them to find out more about a product by scanning QR codes in-store, or allowing them to create a shopping basket by zapping items whilst walking around a shop.
Mobile coupons and loyalty card schemes should be seamlessly integrated with physical purchases, so that rather than being an afterthought, they are treated as a fundamental component of the shopping experience. Properly implementing fresh ideas like these will not only make your brand cooler, but also show customers you’re not afraid to adapt to make their lives easier.