Posted April 12, 2012 1:05 pm by with 0 comments

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We are quite aware of the phenomenon of smartphone use to help the shopping process for consumers. Price comparisons, deal hunting and availability are all areas where a consumer can use their smartphone to gain advantage over retailers. Add to that the idea of “showrooming” where retail stores are used to see physical products then those items are ordered online or purchased elsewhere, and retailers have a sticky situation in the mobile shopping world.

First, just what percentage of folks are using their smartphones to shop in the US? A study by Leo J. Shapiro and Associates as reported by eMarketer shows the following

With 2/3 of the respondents saying they use smartphones to help them shop that should be enough to make retailers stand up and take notice.

While that information is helpful it’s the next chart that is very interesting and one that needs to be taken into serious consideration by retailers.

As you can see, those who use the smartphone as an aid for shopping are more likely to turn to the phone at all times but what I found curious is the drop off from the research being done before entering the store to actually being in the store itself. If people were truly comparing and trying to find the better deal I would suspect more folks would turn to their smartphones when they are in front of a product with pricing data etc. Do people suddenly get smartphone shy if it looks like they are comparison shopping or “showrooming”?

What are retailers to do? They are going to have to make their stores something that adds value (immediacy of purchase etc) so that they don’t simply become places where people try things out (or on) then move on to buy it elsewhere. Service levels may make the difference in a situation where prices are a bit higher in the brick and mortar. It could simply be the overall store experience. It could be social media. There are any number of options.

So while things have changed for retailers they really haven’t all that much. It’s just that now in today’s environment the competition isn’t just the store down the street or at the other end of the mall. It’s the entire retail world that is online. Same principle but a little bigger problem to tackle wouldn’t you say?

What suggestions would you give retailers who are looking to get smartphone users in their stores to buy then and there? Do you have any predictions on where retail will be in 5 or 10 years? Sound off in the comments.