Commentary

Mobile Shoppers Heading to Physical Stores

Mobile shoppers will be heading to stores in droves this holiday season but many are apprehensive about what they’ll encounter there.

Despite the increasing capabilities of smartphones and tablets for shopping, study after study shows that brick and mortar stores still overwhelmingly dominate as the purchase method of choice.

A new study by Harris Interactive found that a large majority (88%) of consumers will shop in physical stores this holiday season compared to a relatively small group (16%) who will shop on mobile devices.

Of course, we know from various studies that consumers continually research purchases on their mobile device, even though the actual transaction may occur in a retail outlet.

While the Harris researchers found that consumers plan to go to stores over the holidays, many are somewhat fearful of the expected experience once there. Here are their top worries:

  • 42% -- Worried about crowds (51% of women 35-44)
  • 29% -- Worried about lines (36% of men 35-44)
  • 15% -- Worried about items being out of stock (30% of men 18-34)
  • 7% -- Worried about there not being enough staff (12% of women 55 or older)

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As you can see, different demographics have different concerns and behaviors. For example, more (25%) consumers 18- to 34-years-old plan to shop on their mobile device compared to a smaller number (5%) of those 55 or older.

The study, sponsored by Euclid and Aerohive, also found that a large number (80%) of women 18-34 own a smartphone compared to those (31%) who are 55 or older.

Many recent surveys around holiday shopping point to the importance of the physical store.

The irony is that all of the consumer worries found in the Harris study could be mitigated by mobile usage.

Shopping on a mobile device (or online, for that matter), allows a consumer to skip a crowd or a long line.

Available software lets apps monitor inventory in real time.

Using a phone in a store to research and compare products lessens the need for available store staff.

Many of the mobile technologies and capabilities are in place.

Now it’s just a matter of time for enough mobile consumers to discover and utilize them.

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