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Survey Says: Retailers Need to Go Mobile


In a recent Foresee Results survey of online shoppers, nearly a third said they used their mobile phone as part of a shopping trip. That means that 29% of these shoppers stood in a brick and mortar store, and pulled out their phone before deciding whether to make a purchase—which means that these retailers could be filling a significant gap.

Most of these mobile-enabled shoppers didn’t head straight for the retailer’s website:

  • 72% ask someone about a product (though the survey doesn’t indicate whether this was via telephone, text message or Internet, eg Twitter)
  • 40% send a picture of a product they might purchase
  • 24% use the Internet to compare prices
  • 15% use the Internet to read product reviews

The survey also found that these mobile-enabled shoppers acted almost exactly like non-mobile-enabled shoppers—except that mobile shoppers are a little more likely to buy the product offline. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is because many people who don’t do the online product research right there in the store go home to research on their computers and end up buying the item online.

Still, this shows that there’s a significant gap that retailers can cover to try convince potential buyers—if they can position and push a mobile app. For example, an offline retailer could work on an app for their customers to post and read product reviews and compare prices, then advertise the app in their store, right alongside the products that people will surely be comparing.

ForeSee had other ideas in the report:

Going forward, retailers should encourage smart phone users to adopt retailer-generated mobile apps, not only to ask about a product or send a picture of a product to a friend, but to compare online prices, remember specs of something they were researching online, and identify the proper model or version of a wish list item.

The mobile Internet and especially mobile apps aren’t widely adopted yet, but in the coming years they’re sure to become more popular. If retailers hop on board the technology now, they’ll be ready when mainstream catches up to the “bleeding edge,” as the ForeSee report calls mobile.

Do you use your phone to shop offline? How else do you think brick-and-mortar retailers could appeal to mobile-enabled shoppers?

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