Retailers Should Wield Mobile To Fight ‘Showrooming’

The spread of price comparison apps and schemes has completely transformed how we shop, a shift in our mobile behavior that has real-world retailers beating a retreat. A raft of recent headlines detail the efforts made by retailers as they struggle to win back the turf they have lost to players that turned their expensive bricks-and-mortar shops into showrooms (I’m thinking here of Amazon, the 900-pound gorilla of mobile commerce).

Fight back, or fight smart? This is the key question Rob and I explore in episode #14 of m-Pulse. Sure, retailers can consider barring mobile devices from their premises altogether. But we reason it would be far better (and more effective) to embrace mobile — and the insights it provides into the make up of a new, complex and hugely important customer segment known as the ‘mobile shopper’.

Fortunately, our argument is backed up with hard data and deep insights from Joy Liuzzo — President of Wave Collapse LLC and one of the most sought after research partners in the mobile industry. Her new consumer research on mobile shopping behavior (which she also presented at Mobile Marketer’s Mcommerce Summit) draws from a survey of 1000 U.S. smartphone users to shed some important light on the problem — and the opportunity (Slideshare of full presentation with commentary is here).

Among the findings: Roughly a third of smartphone owners surveyed use their mobile apps while they are in a physical store to help them shop. This may be a significant portion of the smartphone population, but it’s by no means an indication that a widespread, overwhelming majority of people are using apps in-store to help them shop.

But Joy’s research moves beyond the numbers to focus on what makes mobile shoppers really interesting to retailers: their intent.

Interestingly, in-store app users are die-hard ‘shoppers’. They enjoy the shopping experience regardless of how they choose to shop. Put simply, this customer segment has a completely different mindset from people who are not in-store app users. They love bargains, but price comparison apps aren’t their passion. These apps merely help these tech-saavy shoppers find great deals and enjoy a great shopping experience. It’s a service that smart retailers (who embace mobile) can duplicate — and improve(!).

It’s also critical to understand that mobile shopper has many sides, so don’t focus on a single mobile shopper segment. There isn’t one. In fact, Joy’s research identifies an array of profiles: the deal-hunters, the browsers, the taskers, the impulsives, the maybes, and the avoiders.

So, how should retailers react? What can they do to ensure they get a piece of the action and a share of the revenues?

Joy uses her recent guest contribution over at MobileGroove to advise retailers on the steps they can (and should) take to enhance the in-store store experience and make the customer segment enjoy the hunt even more than the bargain. She also outlines some concrete approaches retailers can take to make mobile-assisted shopping a convenient, compelling adventure.

About the author

Peggy Anne Salz

Peggy Anne Salz, Top 30 Mobile Influencer, is the chief analyst and founder of MobileGroove, a top 50 ranked influential destination providing custom research, strategic consulting and Thought Leadership content for the global mobile industry. A nine-time author her work includes two books about mobile apps, as well as dozens of reports, white papers and articles covering mobile marketing, mobile search and social media. Peggy will be a regular here at untetherTV, where her posts will also summarize the key takeaways from Apponomics: The Insider's Guide to A Billion Dollar App Business, a free book you can register to download here.

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