There was a very interesting article in Fast Company titled “5 Trends That Will Shape Digital Services In 2013”.  One of the 5 trends in the article had to do with the consumer’s use of smartphones as part of the shopping experience and it included the following quote:

“Almost half of U.S. smartphone users have used their devices in-store, and more than half of those have gone on to abandon their in-store purchase.”

It seems as if the entire planet now owns a smartphone, and are using their smartphone as part of the in-store shopping experience! Regardless of whether customers are using their smartphones for price comparisons, online coupons, user reviews, or other information to assist with making a buying decision, the use of the smartphone creates a new risk to retailers as a factor that could potentially result in a lost sale.

Looking it at it from a different perspective, however, the smartphone also creates an opportunity to not only keep that customer, but leverage the smartphone to enhance the shopping experience and increase sales!  The key variable is to how to ensure the consumer’s smartphone is used for Good (i.e. buying the desired item in your store) versus Evil (i.e. buying that item at your competitor).

By leveraging your ecommerce platform, it’s possible to build tools to personalize the in-store shopping experience and incent customers to purchase immediately.  One example would be to identify customers in the store, send customers a personalized text thanking them for the store visit and their ongoing loyalty, and include a personalized “thank-you” promotion for immediate use during their store visit.  These promotions can have a short lifespan (e.g. expires in 2 hours), but could be enough to incent the consumer to buy right away and not proceed with their “smartphone analysis”.  The ecommerce platform can provide the backbone to make the consumer’s use of a smartphone a positive factor, rather than a negative factor, for a retailer.

Ultimately, smartphones create an opportunity to personalize the shopping experience in a way that creates value for the consumer. That value may translate into a customer who does not feel it is necessary to use their smartphone to check elsewhere as they will feel they are already valued where they are – in your store!

About the Author:

Ian is the Solutions Marketing Manager for In-Store Commerce.  Ian brings over 25 years of experience in the retail software industry, with expertise in Store Systems. Ian writes about in-store technology, and its impact on store operations and the consumer.

Photo credit – Fast Co. Design