Smart(phone) Strategies: Capitalizing on the Mobile Shopper

Consumer Forecast Holiday 2015

It is no longer news that smartphones are changing the way people shop. And for many brick-and-mortar retailers, online shopping is treated like the enemy, as if the only thing it offers traditional retail is an ever-looming threat. But what if we could actually leverage online shopping to boost brick-and-mortar sales? What if the mobile shopper is not a threat, but our greatest opportunity?

A study by International Data Corporation (IDC) found shoppers who shop both online and in-store have a 30 percent higher lifetime value for retailers than those shop using only one channel.

The ultimate goal for today’s retailer? Connect and engage with consumers so that they rise to become brand-loyal, multichannel shoppers.

The first step in connecting is understanding consumers’ behavior. Consumer loyalty platform SessionM recently conducted a mobile survey of over 12,000 members to understand how consumers shop, how smartphones impact and influence decision-making, and how they plan to use smartphones in the future. Here are the highlights:

  • Most consumers are still shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. 73 percent of respondents made an in-store purchase in the last three months, and more than half consider in-store shopping the best overall shopping experience.
  • That said, an impressive 90 percent said they use smartphones when shopping in store. Top uses include: comparing prices (54 percent), searching for product info (48 percent) and checking online reviews (42 percent).
  • Three-quarters of those surveyed said they would be more likely to shop at a retailer with a loyalty program, and 57 percent are more likely to shop if they received push notifications with offers and coupons while shopping in-store.
  • Compared to a year ago, 85 percent of respondents said their mobile buying frequency had either held steady or increased

Because smartphones are being used as in-store shopping companions, they are the best tool to tap into the customer journey, bridge the gap from online behaviors to offline, and influence shoppers right at the point of purchase. As the shift continues towards mobile as a shopping channel, retailers can make efforts to enhance their multichannel shopping experience, optimizing their sites for mobile use and incorporating multi-media, large product views.

Set of touchscreen smartphones

Especially in categories where in-store purchases outpace online, such as apparel and footwear, smartphones have shown to be the most effective way to access customers and build ongoing relationships across channels via real-time offers and information.

Loyalty programs incentivize high-value behavior and build relationships to create lifetime customers. They also tie multiple channels together, allowing retailers access to a complete profile of their customers, which then enables them to create a more personalized shopping experience and attract more loyal customers.

With forecasters like eMarketer claiming that US retail e-commerce sales of apparel and accessories will claim a 17 percent share of total US retail e-commerce, brands in all categories would be wise to connect with customers both online and offline to influence their purchasing behaviors. Opportunity is knocking (and it sounds like a ringtone).

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