Identifying Mobile Shoppers A Top Priority For 70% Of Retailers

Mobile commerce is not only in the hands of mobile shoppers.

Retailers increasingly are looking to personalize shopping experiences by tapping into mobile technology to help them identify their customers.

Identifying the customer and delivering a personalized experience is one of the top priorities of 70% of retailers, according to a new study by BRP Consulting.

More than half (57%) of retailers say customer mobile experience alignment via mobile app, Web site and responsive design is a top customer engagement priority, and empowering associates with mobile tools is important for 46% of retailers.

The intent is to use mobile technology to identify the customer prior to checkout -- sometimes even before they enter the store -- to enable associates to assist and influence purchase decisions, according to the report.

In previous times, retailers relied on checkout for customer identification. Savvy retailers now leverage mobile apps, WiFi, geolocation and beacon technology to identify customers when they are near or entering the store. This technology is becoming commonplace at shopping centers, malls, restaurants, drug stores and convenience stores.

Many retailers are using such technology and others are testing it. Here’s how retailers have either piloted or implemented customer identification via mobile device or plan to within the next 12 months:

  • 32% -- WiFi
  • 31% -- Mobile app
  • 29% -- Mobile website
  • 29% -- Mobile loyalty program
  • 26% -- MAC address
  • 26% -- Near field communication (NFC)
  • 26% -- Mobile wallet
  • 22% -- Bluetooth
  • 21% -- Social media listening
  • 19% -- Beacons

Retailers also have placed technology into the hands of sales associates. However, there are some issues there. While about half (49%) of retailers are using mobile customer engagement solutions for associates, 73% of those retailers say it needs improvement, according to the study.

Mobile payments also are gradually becoming a part of the shopping experience. However, one of the stumbling blocks is the ability of retailers to be able to take mobile payments. Here’s the rundown of which payment methods can be accepted at retail today, according to BRP:

  • 36% -- Apple Pay
  • 34% -- PayPal
  • 25% -- MasterCard PayPass
  • 24% -- Android Pay
  • 20% -- Visa Checkout
  • 18% -- Samsung Pay
  • 11% -- Chase Pay
  • 4% -- Private label mobile payment

There’s yet another issue mobile shoppers may face, at least those looking to buy through apps. Only 22% of retailers offer mobile apps that can be used for making purchases, according to a new study by the ecommerce company NewStore.

That study comprised in-the-field interviews with 112 luxury, lifestyle and fashion retail brands to evaluate their mobile capabilities, with a focus on native apps, mobile websites and the omnichannel functionalities they deliver.

About a quarter (24%) of brands display real-time inventory on their apps, as do 22% of brands via mobile websites.

The good news is that most (88%) brands offer access to a loyalty account through an app.

The fine-tuning of mobile commerce experiences matters, since the number of mobile phones continues to grow around the world.

Phone companies shipped 347 million smartphones worldwide in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report from the International Data Corporation.

Samsung is the mobile marketer leader, with 79 million phones shipped in the first quarter, along with 52 million Apple phones shipped.

Commerce will grow along with the mobile market itself.

There also will be more opportunities to deliver end-to-end experiences, which is hardly happening today. The NewStore study found that only 1% of brands follow up on an in-store purchase with personalized communication.

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