Deloitte: Smartphones will influence $689 billion in retail store sales by 2016

NEW YORK — Smartphones will continue to influence retail sales and will grow to represent 19% of total store sales by 2016, according to new Deloitte research.

"The Mobile Influence Factor in Retail Sales" study — polled a national sample of 1,041 random consumers and then augmented the sample with additional smartphone owners to reach a sample of 1,557 smartphone owners — found that the "mobile influence factor" captures the in-store sales driven by consumers' store-related smartphone activity, such as product research, price comparison or other mobile application use. These mobile-influenced sales, which currently influence 5.1% of annual retail store sales — translating into $159 billion in forecasted sales for 2012 — is expected to reach $689 billion by 2016.

Additional findings from the study included:

  • Consumers' store-related mobile activities are contributing to — not taking away from — in-store sales, and that smartphone shoppers are 14% more likely to convert and make a purchase in the store than nonsmartphone users. This means that mobile is an important tool for retailers to incrementally drive traditional in-store sales, strengthening the relationship between retailer and consumer to increase engagement and loyalty;

  • Nearly half (48%) of smartphone owners who use their devices for in-store shopping said it has influenced whether or not they purchased an item in a store. Deloitte found that consumers' smartphone use tends to be highest at or near the point of purchase; and

  • Retailers' mobile applications appear to be the inroads to consumer engagement. Nearly 4-out-of-10 (37%) smartphone owners surveyed who used a smartphone on their last shopping trip utilized a third-party mobile shopping application, and more than one-third (34%) used a retailer's mobile application. "Retailers that do not engage shoppers through specialized mobile applications or targeted smartphone-based promotions leave the door open for competitors to reach a customer who is standing in the retailer’s store and at the point of purchase," said Kasey Lobaugh, principal and direct-to-consumer and multichannel leader for Deloitte Consulting LLP. "To make the connection with consumers, retailers need to understand how mobile shoppers are willing to interact with their specific store category, format and merchandise, both inside and outside the store, and customize their mobile strategy around the shopper’s needs and experience."

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