Commentary

Mobile Influence On Store Sales Tops $1 Trillion

Even as more online sales happen through mobile phones, the major impact of mobile will be felt in actual stores.

With bigger screen sizes and at least more in-store Wi-Fi working, in-store Web browsing is getting easier.

And that’s a good thing for consumers, since most of them who use phones to shop tend to turn to websites rather than apps, basically an extension of their desktop behaviors to mobile.

But the money still remains in the physical store.

While U.S. shoppers spent $334 billion online last year, they spent $2.9 trillion in physical stores.

The key is that mobile influenced more than $1 trillion of physical sales, according to Forrester.

The mobile influences include activities such as checking store hours, reserving an item for in-store pickup and comparing prices.

Part of the reason for the continued growth of mobile in retail is that with mobile phones, consumers no longer go shopping; they always are shopping, as I wrote about in my last book Mobile Influence.

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But even with $1 trillion of sales being influenced by mobile, these still are relatively early days.

Coming are more widely used mobile capabilities, such as in-store maps, in-store product locations, mobile payments that can be made in stores, thereby avoiding checkout lines and shoppers in stores buying out-of-stock items at other stores.

A significant aspect of the mobile influence on retail sales is how consumers actually use their phones as they shop in stores.

One of my favorite in-store mobile activities has been to scan items for a quick price check, which more often than not, shows a lower price elsewhere, allowing the store I’m in to match the price, which most top-rate stores do.

For years, I’ve most frequently used ShopSavvy, Amazon’s PriceCheck and ScanLife.

ScanLife also tracks in-store mobile activity of its users and periodically assembles some interesting stats on how their app users are tapping into their phones.

Consistent with many other studies, the new ScanLife survey of 19,000 of its app users found that deals are at the top of the list. Here’s what mobile shoppers identified as what they would want to receive from their favorite brands while shopping:

  • 45% -- In-store coupons
  • 24% -- Online discount code
  • 12% -- Contest or sweepstakes
  • 10% -- New product promotion
  • 9% -- Product specific discount

Research via smartphone is done at home by the majority (54%) of consumers, with more than a third (35%) researching in stores.

Most (89%) consumers use their mobile device while shopping, which seems logical since those surveyed use the ScanLife shopping app.

Inconsistent with other studies, most (72%) mobile shoppers in this survey prefer a mobile app compared to 28% who prefer mobile websites when interacting with their favorite brands.

The obvious opportunity for marketing and advertising is that consumers in stores are very open to deals.

For example, 86% said they would find it beneficial to receive store offers or coupons on their smartphone while shopping in their favorite stores. Also, many (43%) would be OK with sharing their location and some personal information in trade for receiving something valuable in return.

Many consumers (63%) even share their email addresses with brands so they can receive coupons and promotions.

For holiday shopping, mobile shoppers also look for deals. Here are the types:

  • 29% -- Percentage of discount
  • 27% -- Clearance sales
  • 22% -- Buy one, get one
  • 14% -- Free gift with purchase
  • 8% -- Dollar-off sales

Despite the overall impact of mobile on shopping, consumers aren’t in stores constantly looking at their phones. Only 11% use their smartphone every time when buying in a store with more than a third (39%) only using them ‘sometimes.’

The challenge for retailers is when and how to interact during those moments when they’re looking at their phones.

Many shoppers have always looked for deals. They just were never available in real time, on location and in context.

That’s what mobile brings to shopping.

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