Is Mobile Shopping in Stores All About Finding Deals?
A new survey finds consumers increasingly using their mobile devices and retail apps to support the in-store shopping experience. The bad news for retail margins is that shoppers mainly use their phones to find lower prices.
The Airship survey of 11,000 consumers across ten countries, including the U.S., was taken in February.
When asked what motivates them to opt in to receive brand communications on their smartphone, discounts, loyalty rewards, personalized offers tied to browsing behaviors/past purchases, and location-based offers saw the biggest gains over the prior year.
When asked about different activities they might use their smartphone to accomplish while shopping in-store, the top two answers were price related, using loyalty cards or coupons stored on your phone, cited by 81 percent, followed by compare prices (i.e., Google, Amazon), 78 percent.
“The data suggests that inflation and the current economy is driving more deal-motivated behaviors from consumers. It also demonstrates an opportunity for retailers to expand customer understanding as shoppers are more motivated to share personal information in exchange for valuable offers and convenient experiences that better meet their needs,” Airship said.
A RetailMeNot survey taken in 2019 likewise saw U.S. shoppers viewing their mobile devices as a path to finding deals. Forty-nine percent of the respondents had an app that collects deals across retailers on their smartphones. Sixty-five percent said receiving mobile coupons they can redeem in-store is important when shopping in stores, and 69 percent agreed receiving a personalized offer on their phone would make them more likely to visit a retailer.
The 2023 “State of Mobile” report from data.ai (previously App Annie) found time spent on shopping apps climbed nine percent globally in 2022, a slow-down from the 20 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2019 and 2022.
The faster growth in prior years was attributed to the online shift earlier in the pandemic. In 2022, price-conscious shoppers drove growth with downloads for coupons and rewards apps climbing 27 percent year-over-year. Data.ai stated in the study, “As in-person shopping returned in 2022 and high inflation squeezed shopper’s pocketbooks, mobile apps became essential tools for cost-conscious consumers to save money.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see mobile devices evolving as shopping tools beyond helping consumers hunt down deals and lower prices? What opportunities around smartphones are retailers still missing?
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9 Comments on "Is Mobile Shopping in Stores All About Finding Deals?"
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Retail Industry Strategy, Esri
Mobile devices offer retailers a robust way to engage with customers in their stores, and it certainly goes beyond just hunting down deals. There’s wayfinding, engaging with store teams to get help with purchase decisions, checking price and inventory, extending assortment, showroom shopping, scheduling deliveries, self check out–it’s a big list, limited only by the creativity of the retailer and their marketing teams. The key is for the retailer to design their apps with the customer’s needs in mind. How can they make the shopping experience better, remove friction from transactions, and provide their customers with real value from the engagement?
Founding Partner, Merchandising Metrics
The retail equation is simple. Explore + Experiment + Execution = Experience³. It’s not a simple sum of the parts. It’s exponential. The customer wants to explore and experiment. The retailer has to execute with that in mind. The really smart retailers will be using mobile in-store shopping to build basket size and average transaction value, not just give away margin dollars. Coupons can incentivize complimentary add-ons, whether it’s apparel or groceries.
B2B Content Strategist
Beyond deal hunting, mobile devices help shoppers access social proof, certainty and ease. Mobile shoppers seek ratings and reviews, virtual try-ons and opportunities to skip the checkout line.
Adding real-time inventory, group buying deals and text-to-shop functionality can give retailers an edge with mobile shoppers.
Marketing Strategy Lead - Retail, Travel & Distribution, Verizon
You are spot on Lisa! While I may check prices to make sure I am getting a fair price, I spend more time checking reviews, product comparisons and inventory availability. For retailers that provide inventory visibility to customers, we often have just as much information, if not more, than sales associates at our fingertips.
Director, Retail Strategy, CI&T
Finding the best price will always be a key goal in the path to purchase, but smartphones can provide value beyond that when customers use them while shopping in stores. There is a near future where apps make recommendations for up-selling once an item is added to the physical cart, show the shopper which store an item in a different size is available, and answer product-based questions a shopper might ask a sales associate before checking out. Lots of opportunity here.
Professor, International Business, Guizhou University of Finance & Economics and University of Sanya, China.
I had to read the article twice. I did not find the one reason that I use my phone while in a store (I have never used it for any other reasons listed).
My reason is simple. I comparison shop: can I get a better price someplace else and is that better price worth going to another store or shopping online? Is the better price worth leaving the store I am in and going to the other (rarely), or is that better price online worth waiting a couple of days to get the product (often)?
CEO and Disruptive Retail Specialist, Gustie Creative LLC
Absolutely, mobile devices are the primary shopping tool for consumers and, globally, are used on a daily basis by 45 percent of consumers to shop. I see mobile growth in “near me” searches for products that consumers want, and want right away. Discounting is great, but getting what you want, when you want it, is key. Retailers need to ensure search and discovery through digital channels is local, as well as global. With travel increasing significantly, reach is essential.
Co-Founder, Customer Maps
Smartphone devices have redefined the consumer decision journey for shoppers. Consumers are motivated to receive brand communications, discounts, loyalty rewards, personalized offers tied to browsing behaviors/past purchases, and location-based offers.
Top two reasons for smartphone usage are price related, using loyalty cards or coupons stored on phone and compare prices. It presents an opportunity for retailer to create a new front door to the store, ever provide local information, create a rich & relevant experience that connect the stores with shoppers, act as an in-store research advisor and encourage those shoppers to come back again and again.
Founder & CEO, HotWax Commerce
Offering loyalty rewards, coupons, etc. is definitely an amazing way for retailers to create brand awareness and engage with customers. However, I wonder if retailers can engage customers through mobile communications, they should be able to entice customers into buying as well.
In my opinion, many retailers aren’t able to sell efficiently through mobile/online channels simply because they implement technology for the sake of it, on a very superficial level. Most retailers lack visibility into their own available inventory across different channels to offer a consistent in-store shopping experience, let alone online. In reality, there are very few retailers who are actually leveraging the latest technology in the right way to sell their inventory from wherever the customer is present.