Only 3% of Retailers Can Identify the Mobile Shopper

If a retailer can identify their best customers as they walk in the door, they could, at least in theory, target those shoppers for a better shopping experience.

Merchants also say they want to engage with their in-store customers but very few have the ability.

While most (95%) of retailers list customer engagement as one if their top three initiatives, a mere 3% currently have the ability to identify the customer when she walks in the door, according to recent research.

Based on a survey of 500 retailers, the Commerce Benchmark Survey by Boston Retail Partners found that the majority (75%) of retailers plan to implement technology to identify customers when they walk in the door within the next five years.

If a retailer can’t identify in-store shoppers, they have little hope to engagement other than general sales and offers that may appeal to certain market segments.

An even larger issue is the lack of ability to identify and acknowledge their loyal and best customers, which means they look the same as casual shoppers or regular showroomers.

The lack of current retailer sophistication in interactively dealing with mobile shoppers is highlighted within the survey.

  • 16% -- Have real-time retail from their point of sale system, which offers the Amazon experience in the store
  • 28% -- Use mobile marketing
  • 22% -- Have implemented real-time analytics

The future view is a bit more promising, with 63% planning real-time retail from POS, 62% planning mobile marketing and 61% planning for real-time analytics.

The catch is that the “future view” is what retailers plan within the next five years.

With the pace of the adoption of new mobile consumer shopping behaviors, five years may seem like an eternity.

The biggest issue in service mobile shoppers in stores is not identifying that there are some problems.

The mega challenge is executing against what they see is coming.

12 comments about "Only 3% of Retailers Can Identify the Mobile Shopper".
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  1. Kurt DeMarais from nGage Labs, June 13, 2014 at 12:20 a.m.

    What's concerning about the statistics cited is that anyone thinks they have "five" years to address knowing who their best customers are when they enter the store is living under a rock. There will be winners in this arena and it will be the first movers. This isn't rocket science. It simply requires a commitment to action versus lip service. The technology already exists to solve this problem and deliver "truly" personalized messages in SMS/MMS, Push, InApp, Mobile Wallet, mWeb, mDisplay and in-store based upon knowing exactly who the customer is and nGage Labs is currently busy providing it. Retailers should focus on data driven personalized messaging to their best mobile customers period, long before they enter a store. The thought leaders are already boarding the train and are leaving the station. Identifying the mobile shopper is not difficult. The tools are available today and I suspect serious mobile marketers will move much faster than than those who still haven't grasped just how fast they're going to need to run just to catch up. It's not about sophistication, it comes down to leadership within an organization.

  2. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, June 13, 2014 at 12:46 p.m.

    I know of several retailers where staff can recognize their regular customers when they walk in the door, so this 3% number seems far too low.

  3. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 13, 2014 at 12:51 p.m.

    Right, Kurt, five years is beyond an eternity in mobile. And as you correctly state, much of the technology to execute already is available, despite the lack if mass deployment.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 13, 2014 at 12:52 p.m.

    The study is based on a survey of more than 500 retailers, Pete.

  5. David Naumann from Boston Retail Partners, June 13, 2014 at 6:05 p.m.

    The following comments are from Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners: “Big retailers are slow to implement the capability of automatically identifying customers as they walk in the store. While the technology exists to do this today, it is a far more complex undertaking to do this for a chain 1,000 locations, than it is for a single store operator. In addition to the complexity, this is a significant expense that most retailers are not ready to absorb. We have worked with over 350 major retailers worldwide and, believe me when I tell you, it will take 5+ years for the technology to be ubiquitous. It is easier said than done!”

  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 13, 2014 at 6:15 p.m.

    Thanks for the additional info from Ken, David. The technology itself is not generally the big issue for implementation.

  7. Kurt DeMarais from nGage Labs, June 13, 2014 at 6:49 p.m.

    In response to David, I agree it is complex and retailers are generally slow to move in many arenas and for good reason. But my initial point was that they should be focusing on identifying their best mobile customers period, long before they enter the store. Forget in-store when the vast majority of retailers are not even effectively executing mobile marketing outside of brick & mortar. How about using technology available today to personalize offers in SMS/MMS, Push, InApp, mDisplay, mWeb & mWallet to get them in the door to begin with. That said, the mavericks will solve the in-store mobile piece in less than half the time.

  8. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 13, 2014 at 7:01 p.m.

    Thanks for adding to the discussion, Kurt, good points.

  9. David Naumann from Boston Retail Partners, June 13, 2014 at 8:23 p.m.

    BTW, here is a link to download the complete CRM/Unified Commerce Study research report:

  10. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 13, 2014 at 8:36 p.m.

    Thanks. (We just didn't link it, since filling out a form giving contact info is required.)

  11. ken morris from Boston Retail Partners, June 14, 2014 at 11:14 a.m.

    I also believe you need to draw your customers into the store and we are doing that via real-time promotions to our clients loyalty customers. We are running campaigns based on weather, forecasts, etc. based on geo-locating the phone, by area code and by zip. The sales lift is extraordinary for a savvy retailer.

  12. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 14, 2014 at 11:53 a.m.

    Thanks, Ken, but as you point out, it takes a savvy retailer as part of the equation.

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