Mobile Shoppers & the Hope for Physical Stores

by Net Future Institute on April 22, 2013

By Chuck Martin

For mobile commerce, the retail store still has a chance to rule.

A recent Forrester study found that visiting a physical store is the most influential source of information for consumers making purchase decisions.

This echoes other research highlighting the potential importance of retail outlets for mobile shoppers.

Studies consistently show that consumers use their smartphones and tablets to research during the shopping process, much of which occurs before a store visit. The Forrester study also points out that one in five cellphone-enabled consumers have used their phones to look up information or read a consumer review while in a store.

Logically, tablets were found to be less used than smartphones in stores, though the research did find that 16% have used them for research while in stores. (Please, let me know if you’ve ever seen anyone do this).

What all of these data points show is that while the mobile shopping process is continuous, retailers have a chance to influence customers when they are in their buildings.

This is why so many innovations are being tried at retail. When you see QR codes at a big box retailer or signs that trigger SMS or MMS interactions, they are attempts to see what works in engaging on-location customers.

Mobile companies are creating and fine-tuning capabilities that facilitate highly targeted, in-store messaging, rewards, augmented reality experiences, rich media MMS messaging and a host of other innovations.

Retailers and brands are testing and using many of these capabilities in hopes of learning what works best for their particular mobile-empowered customers. Some likely will be found to be effective, others may be deemed too creepy for primetime.

One way to look at this is that marketers are leveraging certain technologies for one stage of the purchase cycle, where the mobile shopper is physically located at that moment.

This is a great opportunity for retailers who get this and leverage their brick and mortar assets.

Once retailers figure how to best engage mobile shoppers where they buy, they then can focus on the entire purchase cycle, which is how they buy.

   Chuck Martin is editor of mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk. He is author of “The Third Screen,” “The Smartphone Handbook,” and the soon-to-be-published “Mobile Influence.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute and a frequent mobile keynote speaker around the globe.

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