Shoppers Lean On Mobile, As Marketers Refine Location Targeting

As retailers prep for back-to-school shopping with mobile, what consumers are looking for from an in-store shopping experience may not be exactly what they get.

Even though just past the start of summer, back-to-school shopping already has begun, according to the recent Rubicon Project, conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, comprising 1,500 interviews of parents.

The majority (60%) of parents will be doing some shopping on a mobile device, with even more (73%) parents of freshmen.

And for shopping by app compared to websites, the majority (68%) of parents are loaded with a retailer’s app, with Amazon topping the list of apps. Here’s what retailer apps are on parents’ phones:

  • 47% -- Amazon
  • 33% -- Walmart
  • 26% -- Target
  • 19% -- Ebay
  • 15% -- Kohls
  • 12% -- Macy’s
  • 11% JCPenney



Once those back-to-school shoppers get to the store, they face yet another set of technological issues along with mobile. And that matters, since a majority (67%) in the U.S. use their phone at least sometime while in a store, according to a recent study by RichRelevance.

And that’s where targeting comes in.

While in a store, mobile messages with personalized product information triggered by location in the store is considered cool by fewer than half (40%) of consumers.

After a shopper leaves a store, consumers who receive a digital coupon for a product viewed but not purchased is considered best by 79% of shoppers, according to the RichRelevance survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers.

This is yet another indicator that the right messages, based on location and with context, can be viewed positively by consumers.

Location-based mobile messaging is hardly new.

The issue is that it hasn’t always been that accurate, at least in terms of getting the right message or ad to the right person at the right time every time.

The catch is that every shopping area can be a bit different, in terms of where the shoppers come from, what they did previously and various other behaviors.

And as those shoppers get closer to a particular store, an irrelevant ad may pop up on their phone, also for a number of reasons.

“Every location has its own shopping area,” Michael Hayes, UberMedia’s CMO, told me yesterday.

The company just launched a new mobile location platform approach that creates customized and real-time changing geo-fences around individual shopping areas.

The ad platform company is leveraging past location data to create essentially dynamic digital fences that are different for each establishment based on the shopper behavior at that location.

“Shopping areas are unique by location,” Hayes said. “We can assume that if you’re visiting a few car dealers within a few days, you’re probably a car shopper. Our technology understands by location the optimal trade area for that location.”

The digital tag area then automatically adjusts for time of day and location-specific behavior, which is different for each location.

Those areas are based on several years of location, behavioral data, Hayes said, meaning that if shoppers come from three miles away, ads will not be served four miles away.

And mobile ads are being viewed.

For back-to-school shopping, almost half (47%) of freshman parents have clicked on a mobile ad in the past week, according to the Rubicon Project study.

The right messaging at the right time and location make up the fuel to drive mobile commerce forward.

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