Mobile Retail: What You Need to Know About The Next Big Thing / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Reasons why consumers are turning to their smartphones and tablets to do their shopping. Plus, how to shift your strategy to reach them.

More than 50 percent of the world’s population owns a mobile device and Nearly 75 percent of Web traffic originates on those devices.

According to data compiled by the digital agency We Are Social, mobile is having a major influence on the ways that retailers market to prospects and customers.

Here is a look at how mobile will continue to change the retail landscape:

Related Article: Beacons are Beckoning: How Mobile Technology is Changing Retail

Mobile Offers Tailored to the Moment

Thanks to near field communication (NFC) and beacon technology, retailers can target mobile marketing offers based on the user’s past purchase behavior and current need — at the very moment he is in or near a retailer’s brick-and-mortar location. Aside from cost-efficient targeting capabilities, there is also evidence that this technology can influence purchase behavior almost immediately after the message is received.

According to one mobile marketing study reported in Harvard Business Review, among the more than 12,000 mobile users located near a movie theatre, there was “a clear relationship between time, proximity and the odds that a consumer would buy a ticket after receiving a discount offer” [on his mobile device]. In fact, consumers who received an offer that could be redeemed on the same day based on their location had a 76 percent higher response rate than those who received a coupon that could be redeemed within the next two days.

Though some larger retailers like Macy’s and Urban Outfitters have already implemented this form of real-time marketing to mobile devices to in-store customers, expect it to increase in popularity, particularly among retailers that have space (such as a concert or an event) or inventory they are willing to discount in exchange for an immediate sales boost.

Consumers Prioritizing the Opinions of Social Media Peers When Making Purchases

Thanks in part to the prevalence of mobile devices, consumers are bombarded with media and marketing messages. As a result, influencer marketing, a tactic in which brands partner with “average Joe” influencers who have the trust of their audiences, has become an important trend all retailers can leverage — at a fraction of the cost of celebrity endorsements or traditional public relations efforts).

In fact, influencer marketing is the fastest growing online customer acquisition channel, according to research by Tomoson, largely because it attracts quality customers relative to the investment: Respondents to the study estimated they receive about $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing campaigns.

The trend is particularly promising for small businesses. Not only are influencer marketing campaigns easily executed on social media (and the majority of the time mobile users spend using their devices is with social media apps) — the tactic can be used as part of a direct sales channel. The experts of CIO Magazine predict that as social media sites continue to experiment with functionality that allows customers to easily purchase items they see directly from their account, social media will soon become another form of m-commerce all retailers can leverage. 

Checkout Lines Have Become a Thing of the Past

Traditional point-of-sale processes can be a significant disadvantage for retailers — but it’s a challenge that mobile payments and mobile point-of-sale systems can solve.  As MIT researcher Richard Lawson explained to NPR, every person has a threshold for how long he is willing to wait in line — and it changes based on when and what the person plans to buy, why and what else is on his schedule. Though retailers can’t predict how busy one customer is compared to the next to determine who is most likely to forego a purchase because of a checkout line, mobile payments and mobile point-of-sale systems act as a line of defense.

Though retailers can’t predict how busy one customer is compared to the next to determine who is most likely to forego a purchase because of a checkout line, mobile payments and mobile point-of-sale systems act as a line of defense.

Retailers offering mobile payment technology empower customers. With the increased focus on mobile wallets due to the release of technologies like Apple Pay, and the popularity of apps through brands like Starbucks that empower customers to pay directly with their mobile devices, customers will increasingly come to expect that they are in charge of when, how and where their purchase is made.

Related Article: Buying In the Cloud: How Cloud Technology is Revolutionizing the Retail Industry

Mobile devices are influencing how consumers find information, make purchase decisions, and pay — but the changes all present opportunities for retailers of all sizes to connect with customers in a way that impacts purchases, and customer relationships with brands. While these trends will surely evolve and shift in the future, it’s clear that mobile and retail will go hand in hand for years to come.

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