Will mobile devices ever truly replace window shopping? The American economy is built on small to medium-sized brick and mortar businesses. Nothing compares to actually trying on a pair of slacks or walking through a huge Home Depot to locate the perfect lighting fixture. I cannot fathom a world without shopping malls and annoying parking lots.
But what do the retail experts think? Will mobile shopping applications complement the shopping experience and improve retail sales? Or are we destined to make most purchases on-line and then wait patiently for the UPS truck?
The retail experts (at the NRF’s Digital Division shop.org) recently released the results of an extensive study about shopping habits. The study evaluates consumer behaviors and attitudes toward social commerce. The study entitled “How Shoppers Interact with Retailers Through Social Networks“ examines the behaviors and attitudes of consumers regarding social media. http://is.gd/BWgQsx This research also examines the popularity of “group-buying sites” and location based applications.
According to the 2011 Social Commerce Study (a joint research project by Shop.org, comScore and Social Shopping Labs), 42 percent of online consumers have followed a retailer proactively through Facebook, Twitter or the retailer’s blog. http://is.gd/BWgQsx The survey further found that the average consumer follows approximately six retailers. The reasons for following the retailer online vary from finding deals, keeping current on products and to learn about information on contests and events. http://is.gd/BWgQsx
Shoppers are also using mobile devices for product research and information while actually shopping in stores. According to the survey, nearly half of shoppers (47%) have accessed customer reviews in store using their mobile device with men (55%) more likely to access these reviews in store than women (39%). http://is.gd/BWgQsx
The good news is that window shopping (and therefore brick and mortar businesses) are unlikely to go the way of the dinosaurs anytime soon. The even better news for the mobile technology industry is that shoppers want to be more informed before they make purchases. Shoppers are actually looking for the product information on mobile devices. And, most shoppers still enjoy the outing to a “real store” if for no other reason than to examine a product prior to purchase.
Our goal/responsibility as members of the mobile technology industry is to encourage our retail business customers to take time to truly understand the needs of the end use shopper. What information does the shopper need to make an informed buying decision?
So long as we all focus on the end use shopper, mobile devices will enhance and compliment (not replace) the shopping experience. Ideally, the mobile device technology will bring the shopper into the retail store and stimulate a now slumping economy.
Note to shoppers: please look up periodically from your mobile device while walking through the retail store. Accidental collisions are avoidable.