Retailers are optimizing their mobile apps this holiday season because shoppers are armed with more than just a wallet and their lists.
Until recently, smartphones didn’t do much but help shoppers find a store location or take a picture of an item to share with someone for their purchasing input. Apps that were able to check inventory or compare prices were few and far between.
As the pressure on brick-and-mortar stores to compete with online retailers increase, physical retailers have ramped up the functionalities of their apps to do more than just provide location and hours. However, according to marketing firm Acquity Group, only 25 percent of major retail chains offer their own mobile apps and just over 37 percent have a mobile website. Has this trend of consumers utilizing mobile apps to shop, compare prices, and purchase products thrown retailers off guard? For the first time in history, smart devices have become most people’s primary computer. Not desktops or laptops, but the devices in our pockets. It isn’t a fad; it’s here to stay.
Experian’s PriceGrabber issued results of its third winter shopping holiday survey which uncovers retail app trends. According to the survey:
- 39 percent of consumers have shopping-related apps on their smartphones
- 42 percent said they plan to download new shopping apps on their phones
- 65 percent said they will download coupon apps
- 62 percent will download price check apps with the ability to scan barcodes
- 38 percent use shopping apps to enhance the experience of shopping in physical stores
Some of Keynote DeviceAnywhere’s customers have upped the ante this year by appealing to mobile shoppers. Amazon.com, one of the world’s largest online retailers, said they will provide a five percent discount to shoppers if they use Amazon’s Price Check app from a physical store. eBay’s RedLaser and Google Shopper also offer apps that allow consumers to find pricing information online while shopping in physical stores.
Brick-and-mortars retailers will undoubtedly get creative to underscore advantages of shopping at the physical store. What does this mean for mobile shopping apps during holiday season 2012? GPS functionality that provide locations of sales clerks and products that consumers have tagged? Self-checkout via mobile devices? Scanning items and having them delivered directly to your car in the lot? There is limitless potential for retailers, whether physical or online, as long as their apps are optimized, bug-free and functional. Needless to say, the way for them to secure and grow their customer base is through mobile.
Retailers and all other organizations must extend their businesses and brands to the mobile channel or they’ll be left in the dust. Though Black Friday is over, I’m optimistic consumer holiday shopping will continue through January with last-minute incentives and price drops in the coming weeks. Retailers still have time to ramp up their mobile offerings to grab a piece of this mobile revenue pie.