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87pc of retailers agree shoppers can find better deals via mobile: survey

Motorola Solutions’ annual holiday survey found that when shoppers received guidance from a retail associate equipped with a mobile device, more than four in ten – 43 percent – reported the device improved their shopping experience.

The survey also found that an overwhelming majority of retailers—87 percent—believe that shoppers can easily find a better deal using their mobile devices, so customer service aided by access to real-time information is “more important than ever.” The survey found that retailers that are not investing in mobile technology to stay ahead of increasingly tech-savvy shoppers are hurting their own bottom line.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Scott Drobner, director at Motorola, New York. Here is what he had to say:

What are the key findings of the study?
The research of 1,500-plus retailers and shoppers is designed to reveal experiences and attitudes towards the use of in-store technologies to enhance customer satisfaction.

Retailers have put their associates at a significant disadvantage to connected consumers with the majority—55 percent—citing that shoppers are better connected than their in-store associates.

That is driven by the increasing availability of online shopping tools and mobile phone applications that allow price comparisons, access to coupons and social networking.

Retailers need to empower the mobile worker.

Eighty-five percent of retail associates agreed that improving in-store communication between staff and managers would have a significant effect on customer satisfaction.

Retailers also must push to enable real-time visibility.

More than one-third—34 percent—of retail managers reported that needing to replenish stock after getting complaints, instead of knowing ahead of time, is a major frustration.

Fifty-five percent of losses due to out-of-stocks could very likely be recovered if store associates have the capability to track down the item and offer a solution.

Sixty-eight percent of retail associates would find it helpful to be able to scan bar codes to check inventory and availability of items in a small mobile device form factor that is deployed to every associate.

Retailers must engage the connected shopper.

Nearly three in ten—28 percent—store visits ended in an average of $132 unspent due to abandoned purchases driven by deal-habituated behavior, out-of-stocks, limited store associate assistance and long check-out processes.

Shoppers with smartphones used their device to influence 39 percent of their walk-out incidents—12 percent checked prices at other retailers online, while 8 percent checked availability at other stores.

One-quarter—24 percent—of shoppers surveyed would be very likely to take advantage of a sales associate using a handheld payment terminal, compared to only 9 percent who would be use their own mobile phone to scan their items and process payment without assistance.

What is the most surprising finding, and why?
We were surprised that so many retailers felt the impact of the deal-habituated shopper.

With 87 percent of surveyed retail associates noting that shoppers can easily find a better deal, offering the best customer experience is more important than ever.

In our experience, retailers need to arm their mobile associates with access to real-time information to level the shopping playing field.

For example, Home Depot recently deployed 30,000 Motorola MC75s across its 1,970 stores.

Equipping their associates with devices that allow them to check inventory, provide product information, print labels, communicate with other associates and even check-out customers with debit or credit cards from anywhere in the store, not only makes them more efficient, but also enables them to take their customer service to the next level.

What is driving the growth of mobile shopping and commerce, especially during the holidays?
Obviously the rise in smartphone adoption and broader 3G and Wi-Fi coverage is a key driver.

We saw dramatic spikes in online shopping driven by retailer investments in multichannel efforts, and this was reinforced across numerous retailers.

Also, the use of retailer-developed mobile applications and mobile sites optimized for phones has exploded.

Any retailer not making huge strides in developing user-centric mobile shopping applications is missing an opportunity.

What is the outlook for 2011?
Right now, there are forces at play that will radically transform the face of retail in 2011: a vast surge in the number of mobile workers worldwide, a flood of data unleashed by advancements in asset tagging and tracking and smarter customers equipped with powerful smart devices.

We think retailers will continue to invest in mobile and wireless technologies not only to better engage with their ever-increasing tech-savvy customers, but also to realize efficiencies within their own process flow.

Final Take
CBS Mobile’s Daniel Sakai