Thursday, October 17, 2013

One in Four CE Buyers Turn to a Mobile Commerce App for In-Store Purchase Help

While the economy is still somewhat fragile overall, and consumer confidence is still looking a bit on the tepid side, there are shoppers out there, and things are being bought and sold every day. Though mobile commerce and online shopping are making huge gains in terms of how customers buy and sell goods, the practice of going to a store and shopping is still well in place, though with a bit of a twist as mobile commerce apps become part of a growing number of shopping experiences.

A study recently released from Parks Associates, titled “Mobile Commerce: Keys to Mass Adoption,” shows just how far this goes, as over 25 percent of CE buyers in households with broadband put a mobile commerce app to work when making an in-store purchase decision. This encompassed a variety of factors, including the use of barcode scanning tools, interacting directly with a retailer or brand, or simply performing research online.

This isn't slowing the use of mobile commerce apps to buy things outright, though, as 43 percent of smartphone users in the United States used said devices to buy something in the last month. But what it is doing, however, is changing the way people shop, and having differing effects by stores. For instance, Walmart has been putting a lot of extra promotional push behind getting customers to turn to the mobile app for use in the store, but at last report, Target customers are actually more likely to turn to the mobile. Fifty-four percent of Target shoppers did when turning to issues of CE, but only 38 percent of Walmart shoppers did likewise.

Despite this disparity, Parks Associates still recommends the mobile app as a way to combat a growing problem in retailing: the practice of showrooming. Showrooming is where customers go to a store to see a product and see how it feels, looks, handles or the like, but then turns instead to a mobile device or online venue to make the purchase, reducing the store to, essentially, a showroom. But the use of the mobile device will allow stores to better work with this phenomenon, allowing the store to take advantage of its own best distinguishing feature, sheer immediacy. While the online app can provide a lot of information, and sometimes better prices, the store can provide the item right now, and even the best online app will require at least overnight to ship the item to the customer's home.

Taking advantage of that immediacy and embracing the power that the mobile app can offer is a recipe for success in many people's eyes. Even Parks Associates' senior analyst Jennifer Kent summed it up well, saying “There's no such thing as a pure 'in-store' shopper anymore. Consumers are checking online information about products before, after, and while they shop in stores. Retailers that embrace this trend will be in a good position to drive more sales within their stores.” This idea sums up the nature of retailing fairly well; make customers feel well-informed, and the chances of making a purchase go up to match. Using the power of the mobile device to drive information no matter where the customer is, along with having just what the customer wants on hand, should indeed make retail stores come out a lot better than without such a combination.

From the article, "One in Four CE Buyers Turn to a Mobile Commerce App for In-Store Purchase Help" by Steve Anderson.


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