Shoppers Set Pace, Direction of Retail Tech Innovation
It’s no secret that more shoppers are bringing their smartphones into stores to help them make purchase decisions. A new Deloitte study shows the number of smartphone owners has increased to 61 percent compared to 42 percent two years ago with over 68 percent of those planning to use their devices to help with shopping. The trend shows no sign of abating.
Obvious in-store smartphone activities include price comparisons, finding deals, special offers and coupons, searching for additional product information and seeing what friends prefer or recommend.
Beyond the obvious challenges for retailers, there are some interesting implications.
Customers are not waiting for retailers to implement new capabilities — they’re charging ahead with their own selection of in-store tools. By bringing their own hardware and apps into the shopping process, shoppers, not retailers, are setting the direction and pace of in-store technology innovation.
This also means customers are choosing where they will get their information and influences which can come directly from brands, deal sites, and curated catalogs or from a competitor, all while in your store. (Here’s a thought experiment: imagine a competitor setting up a kiosk inside your store.)
How can retailers deal with this? Here are some ideas.
First, embrace the fact that consumer behavior — and the purchase decision process — has changed significantly. (This sounds like common sense, but it’s always surprising how many organizations deny real changes in their ecosystems.)
Second, recognize the physical store as a competitive asset. The products are right there for customers to look at, experience and buy, providing instant gratification. Use the smartphone to connect the shopper to the store and personalize the experience. For example, provide product locations or send relevant offers based on their current product searches, shopping lists and past purchases. Let them know about new products that might interest them.
(As a corollary, don’t take a shortcut by providing a mobile-optimized ecommerce experience that takes an in-store shopper online. That’s a gift to Amazon.)
Third, things are changing quickly. Create a design and delivery process that rapidly and continuously tests new ideas, measures them and incrementally improves the shopper experience. Many ideas will fail or require tweaking, so there’s a need to do it fast and move on. A key benefit of digitally connecting with shoppers is the resulting analytics that can be used to improve both apps and in-store processes.
Shoppers using smartphones in-store is a tremendous opportunity for retailers. Take advantage of it or someone else will … in your own store.
- Deloitte’s 2013 Annual Holiday Study – Deloitte
- How Are Retailers Using Mobile in the Changing Path to Purchase? – eMarketer
How are shoppers who bring their own mobile devices to stores influencing the development of new retail technology? What changes in retail technology do you expect to see as a result of the devices and apps being used by consumers?