Shopping habits are changing faster than ever before. Some retailers are very quick to catch on to this and others are slow on the uptake just doing what they've always done, but they are missing a big trick here. Since the smart phone revolution people access online information wherever they are, and shopping is a big part of this mobile information age.
As consumers browse round the shops they want to make informed decisions and check out reviews and product specifications before they purchase, and most importantly check they are getting the best deal, easily finding this information without even leaving the store.
Some retailers are offering information facilities on in-store screens, mostly they have developed apps which allow users to quickly find the information they need on smart phones or tablets, as they realise more and more traffic is via mobile phone platforms such as Andriod or Apple. Consumers want to interact with their favourite brands more than ever since the smart phone, they'll share information via social networks, want to hear about innovation in technology, talk about their experiences with products and brands, and find the best local deals. It's easier than ever to lose a customer to lower price competition when they have all this information at their fingertips. We're not nearly as far along as the American market but this interesting film by Google shows us just where we are heading.
So what are the brands doing about this? Identifying their consumer behaviour and developing a mobile strategy seems to be a stumbling block for many retailers, and let’s face it, so far it has been very trial and error with a lot of brands investing in mobile strategies that just haven’t worked. They've not always looked in to the practicalities of what consumers want - how they want to interact with finding stock, the best deals and store locations. They haven't focused on getting the consumer to the product rather on useless design led fun apps or glorified brochures that leave the user frustrated and underwhelmed.
Integrating social media and apps with in-store shopping seems to have been a struggle for many, but those that get it right are trail blazing the way for others. Some of the most successful retail mobile apps seem to be the ones that offer customer loyalty or discounts, like Amazon which rewards shoppers with a discounts for purchasing online when using their price check app. This then feeds valuable competitive instore pricing information back to Amazon..a mutually beneficial experience.
Some retailers are now offering wifi in-store as they recognise that customers are online in store and it's a head in the right direction. Retailers are missing out though by not offering both tablet and smartphone versions of their apps but I think after a shaky start in the mobile arena for retail this year we will see improvements come on in leaps and bounds and see more retailers getting it right.