On Hitting & Missing Mobile Shoppers

Many retailers may be totally missing some mobile shoppers.

A new study shows that retailers plan to beef up their mobile investments in paid search and email, since they see some shoppers leaning that way.

The research, from Forrester and, found that more than a quarter (28%) of emails are being opened on smartphones and tablets.

Of the retailers surveyed, most (87%) are on top of mobile mail optimization and they also are warm to search, with almost three quarters (71%) planning to optimize paid search for mobile devices.

This strikes me as looking for the path of least resistance to reach mobile shoppers.

It seems obvious that many smartphone and tablet owners use their smartphones and tablets essentially as internet access devices.

The idea of using a mobile device for email and Web searching is not in itself bad. After all, it could be argued that the ability to send and receive email on a mobile device made BlackBerry famous.

However, the study also found that most retailers are shying away from some of the elements that can empower true mobile commerce. The majority of retailers do not offer mobile coupons, won’t be using geo-fencing and have no intention to pursue check-in programs.

A very recent study of smartphone owners by GigaOm looked at shopping behaviors and found that of those using shopping apps, some of the top reasons were to find coupons (28%), get offers and deals (25%), compare products (20%) and shop for gifts (20%).

These consumers are using mobile apps to shop and they have high expectations. Email and search optimized are anything but center stage for them.

The reality is that some mobile shoppers will use their device as a net access tool while others will use it as a mobile commerce empowerment tool.

For the first group, optimizing search and email may be effective, even though the true power of the device is being grossly underutilized.

Then there is the other group.

And that’s where some retailers may be missing the boat.

5 comments about "On Hitting & Missing Mobile Shoppers".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, July 18, 2013 at 3:16 a.m.

    The GigaOm report is paywalled. Just want to say that I've literally never seen anyone use a shopping app, despite being on the lookout for this type of activity because of my job, and despite seeing people use shopping Websites thousands of times, so I think the number of times they are used must be small. My best guess is that the figures are distorted because these surveys often ask about any use at all, without regard to frequency or recency. So I don't think retailers are missing the boat

  2. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, July 18, 2013 at 3:21 a.m.

    Also re geo-fencing - I would expect retailers to actively avoid activities that reveal they know customer locations until the whole NSA thing blows over, because they don't want to creep out their customers.

  3. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, July 18, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.

    Yes, Pete, though I do have the study, which is the source of the data. Via apps, as you're aware, retailers would let customers opt in or not regarding location. As always, your comments are appreciated.

  4. Eugene Signorini from Mobiquity, Inc, July 18, 2013 at 1:23 p.m.

    "It's interesting that retailers are focusing on beefing up mobile investments in paid search and email, rather than focusing on improving the user experience and functional performance of their mobile offerings. My company commissioned some research which found that slow speeds, poor navigation and error-prone checkouts are rife among the top 20 retailers’ mobile apps & sites – and that more than 40% of smartphone and tablet-owning shoppers would be less likely to shop at a retailer if they had a poor experience with their mobile app or site. To me, it seems fixing this should be priority #1 for retailers, especially as Q4 draws closer. You can see more of the full study results here:"

  5. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, July 18, 2013 at 1:41 p.m.

    Great points Eugene, thanks for sharing that and the link.

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