WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Nothing beats the experience of shopping in a store: touching and feeling the merchandise, enjoying the ambiance of the store with the Muzak playing in the background, engaging with the retailer's wonderful customer service representatives and then pulling up that product on Amazon.com and clicking "check out." Coupling online retailing with ease of access through smartphones and tablets and a lot of points of differentiation that retailers had used to distinguish their brands — namely, convenience amd price — go straight out the window. Retailers not only need to learn how to fight fire with fire, they need to be able to create a raging inferno that shoppers can't help but to stop, stare and pay for more. That makes the National Retail Federation's Integrative Mobile Initiative a big deal.
(THE NEWS: NRF initiative takes on challenges of mobile retailing. For the full story, click here.)
Mobile retailing is only going to get bigger. According to a Deloitte research published in June, smartphones are expected to account for $689 billion sales, or 19% of all sales, by 2016. Mobile-influenced sales already are expected to account for $159 billion, or 5.1% of all sales, by the end of 2012. The silver lining in that study? Shoppers may not be using brick-and-mortar retailers as a showcase for competing online retailers as much as many think. Consumers' store-related mobile activities are contributing to — not taking away from — in-store sales, Deloitte reported. Smartphone shoppers are 14% more likely to convert and make a purchase in the store than nonsmartphone users.
The tipping point may be whether or not a retailer even has a mobile application. Nearly 4-out-of-10 of smartphone owners surveyed who used a smartphone on their last shopping trip utilized a third-party mobile shopping application, compared with 34% who used a retailer's mobile application.
There also is target marketing opportunities to be realized through smartphone engagement. According to an ongoing shopper behavior study conducted by The Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research, African-Americans and Hispanics are adopting new shopping technologies at a faster rate than Caucasians, with 18% of African-American shoppers and 16% of Hispanic shoppers using their mobile device to make purchases as compared with 10% of Caucasians. Despite smartphone penetration skewing lower among African-Americans and Hispanics than Caucasians, both are leading the charge by using mobile as a means to access the digital world of shopping aids.
An additional learning from that research includes the fact that almost as many shoppers are using coupons from email and e-newsletters (49%) as they are from the Sunday paper (57%).