Smartphones and Retail: The Glass is Half Full

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Consumer adoption of smartphones and mobile behavior is transforming retail at a faster rate than any previous technology wave. Researcher comScore reported that as of the end of February 2013, 57 percent of U.S. mobile consumers now own smartphones, an increase of 28% year over year.

It seems that once new smartphone owners begin to use their devices for shopping, activity builds. Deloitte reports that 60 percent of mobile shoppers use their smartphones while in store, and another 50 percent use them while on their way to the store.

The pace of smartphone adoption and behavior has made for some interesting headlines about the role of traditional stores. If your future depends on the health of retail, how you respond to the rapidly changing landscape may depend on whether you think the glass is half empty or half full. The half empty view may conjure up the threat of price checking and showrooming.

Read on for some reasons to view the glass as half full:

It is certainly true that e-commerce continues to build, but mobile-influenced in-store sales greatly overshadow direct m-commerce sales. Mobile will influence $689 billion of store sales by 2016 vs. $31 billion of direct sales on smartphones. (Deloitte) The vast majority of the action stays in the store.

 

Smartphone shoppers are pulling us into the future at a faster pace than we might like, but there is a payoff. Smartphone shoppers are 14% more likely than non-smartphone shoppers to convert in store.

 

Shoppers still want to interact with retailers, and they now have more ways to do so. While 37 percent of mobile shoppers responding to a recent Deloitte survey reported using a third-party app to search for deals or compare prices, an almost equal percentage accessed a retailer’s app or website, and 85 percent of those who did made a purchase that day.

 

There is no doubt that the smartphone places a powerful tool in the hands of shoppers, but in truth consumers still overwhelmingly trust buying in store. Over three-quarters of consumers responding to a recent Nielsen survey called the store the “safest” place to buy.


If you’re a retailer or brand working to adapt, “safe” may not be the first word that comes to mind, but there is reason for optimism along this path that consumers are pulling us down.

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