Walk into just about any retail establishment and you’ll notice that most customers are buried in their mobile phones.
But they’re not just texting their friends—they’re researching products. According to Walker Sands’ 2014 Future of Retail study, 64 percent of shoppers turn to their mobile devices for information about products while in stores.
Mobile devices are transforming the in-store shopping experience across all product categories, from appliances to groceries to pet care. Smartphone-savvy shoppers use their devices to compare prices (53 percent), look for deals (39 percent) and read product reviews (30 percent), according to a study by the Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council and M/A/R/C Research.
“It’s critical for retailers to provide a seamless experience as they move from a mobile device to in-store to their laptops,” Walker Sands writes in the report.
Smartphone use in stores leads to more spending, according to the Google study. Frequent mobile shoppers—people who use their phone to help with shopping at least once a week—spend 25 percent more than people who occasionally shop with their phones.
While it is clear retailers want these customers, what do these customers want? All trends point to more self-service. More than half of shoppers Walker Sands surveyed would like to have a store’s map available on their devices when they arrive, and the ability to pay and check out using their devices when they leave. Before retailers invest big bucks in a flashy app, however, they should take note that 65 percent of customers actually prefer mobile sites to apps according to Google.
To address in-store price comparisons, retailers can offer price-match guarantees or unique product bundles that are only available in their store.
“Make it easy for shoppers to ﬁnd product information, promotional oﬀers, or other information about your business on their smartphones when in-store,” the Google study suggests.