Smartphones and mobile content impact the retail industry
Smartphones and the rise of mobile content have had arguably the biggest impact on the retail industry over the past few years. A recent report from DigitasLBi illustrates just how much smartphones have changed the nature of the retail game, with many merchants forced to react to the use of mobile devices as shopping companions or else risk losing customers to competitors that do a better job of leveraging mobile content.
Nearly half of respondents worldwide agree that the use of smartphones has affected the way they shop, while 71 percent of customers in the United States acknowledged that their smartphones influence their buying decisions. Although only approximately one in five U.S. shoppers have actually purchased an item directly from their smartphones, others are utilizing these devices for auxiliary purposes such as accessing mobile content to conduct research or find coupons.
“In a few seconds on a smartphone, consumers have access to perfect information about a product and the ability to buy it,” says Chia Chen, senior vice president of mobile at DigitasLBi’s North American branch. “Mobile makes digital a part of all shopping experiences. Brands and retailers looking to influence shopping decisions need to adopt a mobile-centric approach.”
Adjusting eCommerce operations to incorporate mobile devices
Regardless of whether retail brands are online only or whether they have an offline presence, it’s of the utmost importance that they consider the use of mobile devices and what it means to them.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, smartphones are particularly disruptive. People may be using these devices to compare prices, research potential purchases online and purchase in-store while on-the-go, locate nearby stores and take several other actions. This will challenge merchants to be available where their customers want them to be – failure to offer mobile content means merchants won’t be able to offer a unified brand experience across all channels.
Although mobile devices may seem less disruptive to online-only retailers since they’re essentially just viewing the same digital site but from a different device, this can still present challenges associated with data collection and customer profiling.
Online retailers are able to learn a lot about their customers by looking at purchase history, their Web-browsing history and other such insight. However, if they are unable to attribute mobile activity to a customer profile in the same way as their online activity, they won’t be able to get an accurate look at their shoppers. This can negatively effect their ability to offer relevant product recommendations and limits other opportunities as well. Innovative use of mobile data collection has become a factor of competitive edge in the retail industry. Making sure your back-end eCommerce operations can incorporate this data is crucial, especially to ensure delivery of an omni channel experience.
Being proactive about new technology
Although mobile devices are the latest and greatest technologies impacting the retail industry, they won’t be the last. Whether it’s a smartphone, wearable technology such as Google Glass or some other device that hasn’t been conceived yet, it’s crucial that merchants are always looking for ways to integrate new technology into the retail experience in a meaningful way.
Today’s customers have quickly shown they are enthusiastic when it comes to using new gadgets, which makes it all the more important that retailers not only respond by leveraging new technology to improve the shopping experience, but also being proactive and staying ahead of the curve. Some of the most successful merchants are the ones that discover innovative ways to use technology first.
While retailers are finding new uses for technology, it’s also crucial they keep up in terms of back-end eCommerce operations. Tasks such as data attribution can be challenging, particularly when it comes to new channels, but merchants need to stay ahead of the game if they want to be successful.