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Mobile’s Growing Influence on Brick-and-Mortar Retail

Manny Veiga

Manny Veiga

Consumers seem ready for a world where mobile is tightly integrated into the in-store shopping experience. But, are retailers ready? 

Mobile Marketer covered new Forrester research that found many consumers rely on mobile devices while shopping in order to feel more confident and in control of their purchases. The research firm separated shoppers into whimsically named segments: Progressive Pioneers, Savvy Seekers, Confidence Conformers, Settled Survivors and Reserved Resisters.

You can probably guess, but the “progressive” shoppers were most comfortable with mobile: 54 percent say they pay for products they find in-store with a mobile phone, while 65 percent say they’re more confident in their in-store purchases when they have a chance to research the product on-the-spot with their smartphone.

Interestingly, this subsection of consumers is also pretty comfortable with emerging forms of mobile retail, including the idea of stores using location-based beacons to alert salespeople if they need assistance.

Retailers are exploring ways that technology can help increase revenue from brick-and-mortar stores. It’s helping in some cases – a piece in Multichannel Merchant talked about how omnichannel strategies have helped retailers like Target and Best Buy make gains. But, it’s still tough sledding for many stores.

Earlier this year, Walker Sands EVP Jodi Petrie argued that brands are sabotaging their own mobile transaction programs by failing to neatly integrate mobile purchasing into an engaging and convenient overall buyer experience.

For example, at Starbucks, mobile ordering struggled to take off not because customers aren’t ready for it, but because baristas in-store couldn’t keep up with the surge in mobile coffee orders. If mobile ordering doesn’t make buying a cup of coffee any faster or more convenient, what’s the point of using the app?

Shoppers don’t tolerate frustrating mobile shopping experiences, which, at the moment, occur all too frequently. Data from analytics firm Soasta found that performance issues contributed to high bounce rates and missed conversion opportunities on mobile retail apps.

The job of fixing the mobile shopping experience falls not just to retailers, said Jodi, but also to the technology companies that create retail solutions, whether they’re into mobile payments, beacons or anything else. From a communications perspective, there’s an opportunity for these tech companies to educate retailers on creating integrated shopping experiences that maximize consumers’ interest and reliance on smartphones.