Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Retailers’ new fear: Consumers redirected out of store over mobile comparison-shopping

This holiday season consumers used their mobile devices as a way to transcend the line between online and retail shopping. Lessons learned from this year should be applied to next year.

According to a study by marketing firm Thomas/Ferrous Inc. and Q&A Research, more than a quarter of respondents said their mobile devices were capable of downloading applications. Of those consumers, 48 percent said they downloaded shopping applications such as Amazon and Yowza.

“Considering that dedicated shopping applications are still in an early stage, this relatively high penetration number suggests that shopping may quickly become a major component of mobile phone usage,” said Jay Thomas, president of Thomas/Ferrous Inc., Sacramento, CA.

“Marketers and bricks-and-mortar retailers alike need to recognize that increasing numbers of consumers are using mobile technology to bring competitive stores into their environment,” he said.

Thomas/Ferrous Inc. is a marketing and design firm that provides services in strategic planning, advertising, design and mobility.

Q&A Research is a marketing research firm.

The Q&A Research and Thomas/Ferrous market report came from a national panel survey of 400 representative households from the Q&A Research database of participants.

“It’s presumable that when these consumers are drawn to a particular item on the shelf, they are then turning to their mobile phones prior to purchase to uncover critical information such as more product detail, user reviews, alternative products and, of course, price comparisons,” Mr. Thomas said.

“So this holiday season, a growing number of consumers were either exiting the store with confidence in their purchases or walking out empty-handed but with specific knowledge of where to go next,” he said.

The research done by Thomas/Ferrous and Q&A Research found that consumers are not just using mobile for big-ticket items. Consumers were using online access to routinely compare products that cost as little as $10.

Dual in the sun
Mr. Thomas said marketers and retailers need to remain vigilant concerning their product merchandising. He suggested retailers consider a price-matching policy if a competitor’s price can be displayed on a mobile phone. 

Next holiday season, Mr. Thomas said bricks-and-mortar retailers need to fight on two fronts.

Retailers need to do whatever is necessary to make sure their customer is not redirected out of their store because that customer found a better purchase via their mobile phone.

On another front, retailers must develop a dynamic online presence in order to capture consumers who are making product searches from competitive stores.

These two changes require investments towards mobility-focused applications, real-time inventory access, efficient ecommerce capabilities and online advertising, Mr. Thomas said.

“While still preliminary, our findings point toward mobility making a rapid and significant change to traditional shopping behavior,” Mr. Thomas said.

“The lines are clearly blurring, and we will see increasing numbers of consumers being led from one store to another by their mobile phones and even to making purchases from online retailers while standing inside a traditional retail store,” he said.

“Consumers will care less about where they shop and more about satisfying their purchase requirements.”