E-commerce has represented a threat to brick-and-mortar retailers ever since online sellers began hanging out their virtual shingles in the late 1990s. However, the threat has intensified thanks in large part to smartphone capabilities. Shoppers scan bar codes to do comparison shopping, look up user reviews, and visit retailers’ web sites to gather information. Any of the above actions can come between a potential buyer and a making a sale. But, according to research sponsored by mobile marketing company Vibes, retailers should adopt a different outlook than the fear created by “showrooming” customers going online to make purchases.
Findings of a survey of 1,000 phone users point to mobile marketing being a valuable information resource for shoppers as they make in-store purchases. Highlights from the survey include:
- 84% said they used their phones to do research while shopping in a store
- 48% of those who had used their phones to do research in-store said they felt better about their purchase
- 6% abandoned a potential purchase in-store and bought from a competitor, even though 33% of those who had done research with a mobile device visited a store competitor’s website
The main takeaway from the study is that consumers use mobile devices as a resource to aid in making buying decisions. It is not necessarily a competition to see which seller has the lowest price as much as it is which one delivers the best buying experience. Thus, retailers should embrace the mobile consumption habits of their customers, not loathe them.
The key is to meet customers’ desires for information by creating relevant mobile resources. QR codes, mobile-device-friendly websites, and custom applications are three mobile experiences that can be developed. “Relevant” is the key word – how many times have you scanned a QR code that takes you nowhere in particular, maybe the brand’s website home page? In other words, there is often no strategy behind the technology.
Shoppers want information. Retailers that act more like a friend and become a dependable resource for information via mobile marketing stand to benefit, both online and in their stores. Commit to being resourceful, not resistant, for customers showrooming in your stores.