Connecting the Mobile Shopper to the Expert

Mobile Shoppers may finally get some in-store assistance from merchants via their smartphones.

We know from research that most consumers prefer to turn to their phones over salespeople to get additional product information and competitive pricing.

As part of its back-to-school promotions, Sears is providing in-store mobile connectivity to store associates for individual inquiries through its Shop Your Way app.

Zappos also is reported to be testing a mobile shopping assistant called Ask Zappos. A shopper can take a photo of a product, send it to Zappos and receive personalized responses with recommendations.

Sears some time ago introduced a version of shopper assistance in its app. I was in a Sears a while back and through a tap or two could see a list of what salespeople were available in each department.

I sent a message to a few of them, and within a minute or two received a call to my phone asking if I had a question.



The obvious weak link in that approach is that the available salesperson who calls back may not have the particular expertise needed for that specific question. But it is a great start.

Just like someone can drive up to say, a Burger King and place an order, the order taker could be in a call center several states away. And that’s the key to connecting with mobile shoppers.

The fast-food order taker could be highly trained and experienced in customer service and upselling. By suggesting an order of onion rings with that burger order for a 25% discount on the fries could potentially increase bottom line sales.

The future for in-store shoppers is to quickly and efficiently connect the consumer to the very best person equipped to handle the question.

It’s getting easier to know precisely where a person is in a store and in relation to what products.

Mobile consumers are looking for the right information at the right time at their location. Where the expertise comes from doesn’t really matter.

The value is in quickly linking the person with that expertise directly to the in-store shopper.


Beacons at Lord & Taylor, mobile strategies, beacons used for Hillshire, the future of shopping apps, location and more: all are on tap at the MediaPost OMMA mCommerce conference in New York on Aug. 7. You can check out the agenda where you also can register to attend. Will I see you there?

4 comments about "Connecting the Mobile Shopper to the Expert".
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  1. Krillion by Local from Local Corporation, July 29, 2014 at 6:22 p.m.

    Chuck, you're right. This is the next step with the intersection of mobile and retail. We know that 72% of consumers are already using their mobile devices to research local brick-and-mortar purchases.

    It makes perfect sense to interact with shoppers when their purchase intent is high. Smart retailers will figure out the technology behind this and implement appropriate strategies to enable shoppers to immediately get the relevant information and expertise they need, when they need it most – through various channels via their smartphone. As many retailers manage their bottom line costs, this potential retail future would maximize retailer sales efforts by pairing sales people with targeted shoppers most intent on completing a purchase. This also provides a much more personalized shopping experience.

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, July 29, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.

    Thank you and good point about what smart retailers will do.

  3. Joseph Ruiz from SMS, July 30, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.

    Chuck, based on my recent Sears experience there are way too many moving parts that aren't connected. My large appliance experience has been a disaster with a fumble at every hand-off. Still silo thinking no one seems to be able to resolve issues. I finally reached out on social media and while it's been a brightspot the fundamental model is broken, at least in my experience.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, July 30, 2014 at 11:26 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing your experience Joseph. All retailers are challenged by mobile and those like Sears are working on connecting those links you mention, which is easier said than done.

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