How Smartphones Are Ringing Up Sales For Online Retailers

ONCE upon a time, that is to say, yesterday (in internet years), consumers researched products and prices online, then went and bought them at their local retail store. Along came a survey in October revealing that many consumers are now using their smartphones to look in stores, but then buying ONLINE! Yesterday (the REAL yesterday), came buzz of a new Apple app for buyers to view products on their smartphones, order online, then go and pick up their order -- ready and waiting at the local store about twelve minutes after ordering.  (Appboy & BGR).  And so it goes. 

Survey Finds Consumers Using Smartphones In Stores Then Ordering Online

The Retrevo Pulse Report of technology trends (October 2011) found:

  • 42% of smartphone owners had used the mobile device in-store to check prices
  • 70%  check out a product in a store and then buy from some other store online!
  • 29% had used smartphones to read a review or look up product specifications
  • 25% utilized the devices to get a coupon 

Some of the products smartphone owners checked out in a retail store and then bought online were: Electronics (58%); Shoes (41%); Apparel (39%); Appliances (23%); Sporting gear (22%); and Home and garden (19%).


image above: part of a study performed by Retrevo

A recent story by Vangie Beal in noted the trending use of mobile phones as "empowering" consumers in the store, with consumers using the phones for instant access to research, price comparisons, and promotional coupons for immediate redemption. That included checking competitive pricing from Amazon (36%) and other online sources (38%).  

Industry-mavens at Deloitte and Nielsen say the number of smartphones in the US will overtake feature phones by the end of 2011 – and growing.  That means millions of smartphone-toting customers will be checking out product information, promotions, purchase-perks, and pricing this holiday season, and then deciding where to make the purchase.  As many consumers complained about not enough help, salespeople not knowing the merchandise, and not enough information in the stores, more big retailers are beginning to provide special apps to help the consumer shop -- and (hopefully) buy -- in their stores.    

Astute Online Retailers Must Have Solid Product Info AND Competitive Pricing

In this "NeverEnding Story," no retailer can afford to be left holding an empty bag at checkout time.  The consumer is using his smartphone to compare products and prices in local stores and online contemporaneously, and then making the buying decision. Online retailers should look at smartphones as a significant source of customers who are ready, willing, and able to buy online. And that consumer is looking for the best deal, which means the online retailer must have ultra-competitive-pricing and information at the very moment the consumer decides to buy.  

You can level that elusive online-playing-field with the retail giants. The successful online retailer must know and monitor competitors' pricing and products 24/7, just as the giant retailers do, to make sure you're the one with the most competitive pricing at any given moment. Add value with the use of intelligence tools that help online retailers compete like David vs Goliath. Astute retailers must have solid product information AND up-to-the-moment competitive pricing to claim their rightful place in the magical world of... ONLINE SALES!  

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Gilon Miller, CMO

About Author

Gilon is a seasoned marketing, sales and business development executive with over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet business. He is the Founder and CEO of GuruShots. Previously, Gilon was the CMO of Upstream Commerce, VP of Marketing at iMDsoft and Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.
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