The smartphone, and other connected devices, have already become an essential part of the shopping experience, and marketers and retailers need to optimize their experiences to ensure they are optimizing the mobile experience.
According to a survey of nearly 2,000 smartphone-owning adults commissioned by St. Louis agency Moosylvania, 71% of them conduct pre-shopping research on their phones, many of them (30%) while on the go (although 20% use their phones to research while watching television). Nearly three-quarters of shoppers use their phones in-store to compare products; a similar amount use their phones to compare prices.
While high-involvement purchases (such as electronics, travel and automotive), are among the most heavily researched categories, low-involvement categories (such as movies, gifts and apparel) are also being researched. Customer and user ratings slightly edged out price as the most important factor in comparing products (69% to 66%, respectively).
“[Smartphones] have really become shopping tools. It’s the way to find information, prices and locations,” Norty Cohen, founder and CEO of Moosylvania, tells Marketing Daily. “It’s basically a retail tool and it changes the way people think about it. It’s changed the way people shop.”
As online and mobile shopping have become more commonplace, the distinction among consumers between those channels and the brick-and-mortar world is diminishing. According to the survey, more than half of consumers (52%) said the customer service experience online is equal to the experience at a brick-and-mortar retailer.
“One of the things we found is that they expect their service online to be almost identical to what they get in-store,” Cohen says. “We used to believe that when you buy in-store there was a personalization factor, but that’s started to move online.”
Meanwhile, shoppers are using their mobile devices to blend the experiences together. That means retailers (and brands found in retail stores) have to optimize not only their mobile experiences, but ensure that they’re getting the most out of their search capabilities as well.
“Mobile is really derived a lot off of search,” Cohen says. “The great equalizer will be search and mobile.”
Finally, social -- particularly photo-sharing sites and services -- is beginning to play a much bigger role in the retail experience. Sixty-eight percent of consumers photograph items while in-store shopping to share with friends and family for feedback while shopping (82% share video).
“It’s more than anyone ever expected,” Cohen says. “No one really shops without a friend, even if that friend isn’t with you.”
"Mobile Shopping photo from Shutterstock"