The Mobile Retail Opportunity: Are You Ready? | Mobile Marketing Association

Mobile is just a research tool and nobody buys anything with it, or it do they?

The debate continues today whether mobile is a proper retail channel, or just an additional research tool to drive footfall to stores. Data from comScore and a recent MMA/GMI survey sheds light on how mobile is affecting shopping behaviour and attitudes both in-store and outside. (See infograph for more mobile retail trends).

So is mobile commerce driving sales or footfall?

14% of the mobile population in the UK purchased goods and services on their mobile phone and spend patterns are interesting to see. comScore data shows us for the month of April 2013 what the typical monthly spend for online mobile purchases made by individuals are: 

Lower value transactions tend to be more common as the vast majority of monthly mobile spend is less than £100. But big spenders are still around with 9% of mobile purchasers spending over £300. We are seeing more and more mobile users trust the services and the purchase path via mobile phones.

And mobile purchasers are buying across all products and retail sectors with the most common being clothing and accessories (39%), physical books (23%), groceries (21%) and take-aways and food deliveries (19%).

What about mobile research driving footfall?

Mobile is providing much of the research, comparison and product awareness for shoppers, meaning they arrive in-store armed with the information that they need to buy what they want. Almost a third of mobile users are using mobile to help in the path to purchase through store locators, searching product information and availability, comparing prices and finding coupons and offers. The most singularly used function was using a store locator (17%), which continues to be a strong retail feature. And only 8% used the daily deal type service - still fairly niche while providing significant benefit to those who use it.

So what happens in-store?

The path to purchase begins outside and continues in-store with 37% of mobile users doing something on their phones to help them buy, and the results point to the social aspect of shopping with mobile phones. 17% of mobile users are texting or calling their friends  in regard to products in-store - the old fashioned social network.  14% take photos of products to consider or discuss with friends or family later, whilst only 8% send pictures to their friends or family. 5% scan barcodes and 6% compare prices on their mobile (mobile showrooming). Only 3% researched product features and 2% checked product availability.

But, get this, 13% of those who purchase on their phones actually complete the purchase whilst in-store. So we can assume people still like to see and touch the goods but are happy to click to buy for convenience on their mobile phone.

What’s the big deal?

In a recent MMA/GMI survey just over half of those surveyed said they would feel more engaged and loyal if exclusive mobile offers were available to customers of shops and businesses whilst physically there.  Many shoppers therefore still enjoy the physical shopping experience and more so if the mobile channel is tapped appropriately. When asked about the method of receiving mobile exclusive deals and offers, 53% expressed a preference for email, 44% SMS and interestingly 18% via application.

Also from another recent survey by spongegroup.com only 28% of multi-store retailers in central London offer free Wi-Fi and with the penetration of smartphones higher than ever, a simple, fast and hassle free Wi-Fi service is another hygiene factor in keeping mobile customers informed,  welcome and engaged in-store.

Hey I'm a retailer, how do I better engage with mobile users? 

In preparation for a connected and ongoing conversation with your customer we recommend 5 things to be addressed before the next major campaign or sales period:

1 - BUILD an adequate, user friendly mobile site or app to deliver what you need - sales, offers, product information, store locations, etc.

2 - SEND communications that works on mobile: email, twitter links and all other social channels are probably going to be on mobile for your customer.

3 - OPTIMISE all ad-campaigns for mobile - desktop campaigns shouldn't appear on customer mobile phones.

4 - RECOGNISE your customers where you have data on, and personalise the experience a little more each time - don't over target, but little recognition goes a long way.

5 - ENGAGE with the smartphone generation and provide a good Wi-Fi connection -  37% of mobile users are using their phones in-store as a shopping companion - they need fast, easy access or they just might go next door.

Mobile is increasingly delivering m-commerce revenue, but as suggested many times it is increasingly providing the thread that links stores and home or office internet experiences. With continued growth in mobile retailer services - higher numbers of users on better devices with hopefully decent network speeds - mobile provides the bridge, in the cross channel retail experience.

Happy Shopping!!

Author: David Hendry (catch33), Hesham Al-Jehani (comScore), Alex Klose (IMImobile)