Think smartphones take away from in-store retail sales? Think again

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Smartphones do — and will continue to — influence retail sales. The surveys that suggest this continue to mount, and a new Deloitte study serves as further evidence that retailers and manufacturers are wise not to rest on their laurels.

(THE NEWS: Deloitte: Smartphones will influence $689 billion in retail store sales by 2016. For the full story, click here)

Some retailers may be hesitant to reach out to consumers via smartphones out of concern that it will take away from in-store retail sales. Those retailers who are stuck in this mindset need to rethink. Seriously. In fact, the Deloitte survey found that smartphone shoppers are 14% more likely to convert and make a purchase in the store than nonsmartphone users.

What this means is 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. There’s no doubt that strengthening relationships with consumers and enhancing loyalty is vital for today’s retailers.

During this year’s NACDS Marketplace in Denver, SymphonyIRI Group’s Navin Gautam told attendees during his presentation, titled “Inside the Mind of the Shopper: Understanding the Difference in Motivation by Generations,” that technology (i.e. smartphones and social media) also is changing the retail landscape and represents significant opportunities, especially when it comes to mobile couponing. For example, research shows 75% of shoppers make a list prior to shopping; 10.6% of list makers use technology; and among those list makers who use technology 69% use a smartphone.

Gautam also said that 75% of shoppers describe themselves as either “deal hunters” or “budget shoppers.” And brand loyalty? Well, only about 4% are brand loyalists.

Furthermore, a separate study found that nearly 75% of consumers would switch brands if offered real-time mobile promotions delivered to their smartphones while shopping in a store aisle. This survey, sponsored by mobile commerce platform and applications provider AisleBuyer, also found that 81% of smartphone owners go to a drug store or supermarket with a list of items to buy; however, only 8% of this group list specific brands to buy. What does this mean? That many shoppers are making brand decisions while in the store, and retailers and brands have an ideal opportunity to influence pre-purchasing decisions via a customer’s smartphone.

Clearly times are changing — and fast. Retailers and manufacturers are wise to embrace and leverage such technology in order to remain competitive and engage today’s tech-savvy shopper.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? How can retailers and suppliers best leverage mobile technology to reach today’s shopper? Post your comments below.

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