It’s no surprise that smartphones have become virtual enemies with brick-and-mortar stores given the fierce competition for shopping dollars. But retail and mobile can be besties if retailers embrace the digital features consumers want before they even set foot in a store and while there. In fact, 71% of smartphone users who research products inside a store say the device has become more important to their shopping experience. So how retailers can capitalize on this behavior and grab those purchasing dollars?
Understanding how we got here is just as important as solving the problem: It was a perfect storm that ultimately led to smartphones gaining shopping power and resulted in a sustained drop in CPG and tech retail businesses. Credit (or blame) it on the ease of online purchasing, meteoric rise of showrooming, and digitally fueled “now” consumer mentality.
Results, however, from Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping: Research Debunks Common Myths, a recent study by Google, Ipsos MediaCT, and Sterling Brands, indicate a new purchasing era is emerging where mobile technology can play a big role in the decision-making process beyond local search. It can help both to lure customers into the store and, once there, to open their wallets. The good news is that brick-and-mortar stores can exploit the benefits of smartphones instead of working at seemingly opposing purposes. But like any good sale, retailers should pay attention and act now.
Retail and Mobile Tip #1: Provide the right info online
With increased local search options on smartphones, consumers want tons of information before they’ll go into a store. A whopping 72% say they desire the price of the item, followed by stock availability, the location of the store, store hours, you get the idea. They want a lot of data before they even think about doing business with brick-and-mortar retail.
The study points out that three out of four shoppers who find the right information in online search results are more likely to visit stores. c Conversely, one in four say without it, they’ll steer clear of a store to avoid the risk of items being unavailable. The net-net? Geo-targeting content and ads help retailers connect with shoppers who may be close to the store.
A powerful way to appeal to these hybrid mobile shoppers is to reinforce product availability with local inventory ads so consumers will feel confident when they visit the retailer. For example, Macys.com creates local inventory ads to showcase local in-store merchandise, and it’s been a successful tactic for the department store.
Retail and Mobile Tip #2: Harness mobile technology to win the in-store sale
Once they are in a storearmed with a smartphone, consumers expect an informative, customized experience. A full 42% are thinking about additional purchases in your store and doing research while inside (64% on search engines and about 40% on the retailer’s website or app). Only a small group will explore another retailer’s website or app. This behavior presents many opportunities for retailers to connect with shoppers who want personalized coupons (85%); recommendations for what to purchase (64%); and reviews (54%). Essentially it’s the retailer’s sale to lose if they don’t supply the technology to help shoppers while in a store.
Sephora is a prime example of a retailer embracing the power of mobile search to help consumers find the right products at those pivotal moments. Designed by the company, their app offers easy access to product ratings and reviews. Retailers can use their existing online presence—whether it’s website, apps, mobile ads or search results—to help in-store shoppers make smart purchasing decisions, which ultimately discourages them from turning to the competition.
Retail and Mobile living in harmony
Overall, the Google study reveals that consumers are more than happy to make a beeline to their local store if expectations for price, availability, and other purchasing checkpoints meet consumer needs. Once inside, consumers want more of a personalized experience, using their phone as the fastest path to research additional products they are already considering. Retailers who harness mobile technology to respond to consumers’ needs rather than viewing it as competition can be a smartphone shopper’s BFF—which is a happy ending for everyone.