Today, mobility is at the eye of the storm for retailers; in particular, the ability to research, compare, review and purchase products and services. But it’s more exciting than that – consumers are turning to mobile devices for information, inspiration and ideas. It’s where the conversation starts and it influences where they go next. This is the era of the omniconsumer.
Gone are the days of the traditional bricks and mortar, 9am-5pm shopping habits, with many consumers now indulging in ‘twilight shopping’ between 5pm and midnight on their mobile devices – indicating that retail really is now a 24 hour industry.
Smartphones and tablets are now so embedded in consumers’ lives that they are often the first thing to be picked up in the morning and the last thing to be put down before we go to sleep. Recent research conducted by Tradedoubler found that half of connected consumers use their smartphone or tablet for shopping activity every week with almost a third (30 per cent) doing so nearly every day. Some early risers (one in ten) even go online as early as 6 a.m. to browse for the best deals around. According to Morgan Stanley, 91 per cent of people keep a mobile device within arm’s reach at all times.
Behind these statistics, however, lies a more complex daily pattern of what devices they are using, and when they are using them. For example, smartphones are the device of choice when out and about and tablets have now replaced the PC or laptop in the evening. In today’s real-time, data-enabled world of personalised marketing, an understanding of these daily patterns has the potential to underpin and inform highly targeted marketing approaches. These approaches are more likely to succeed because the information is communicated at a time and in a way that is most relevant – and therefore more welcome – to the person receiving it.
The difficulty that many retailers face is that of guiding consumers down the purchasing path and to the virtual or physical checkout to ensure a purchase is made. Many consumers drop off the purchasing path when that level of engagement falters or when retailers aren’t doing enough to persuade consumers that their store, either online or offline, is the one that they must visit to make their purchase.
Almost half (47 per cent) of connected consumers use their smartphone to compare prices and nearly a third (29 per cent) then go on to buy the product that they’ve compared. Retailers have to recognise that the shop window is not the only window that consumers are looking through. Even leisurely activities such as watching the TV, have become far more active with the presence of mobile devices. Tradedoubler found that 69 per cent of tablet owners use their device for activity related to the programme or film they’re watching, while 59 per cent of smartphone owners use their device to buy something they’ve seen advertised. A mobile presence is therefore essential to ensure that consumer engagement is maximised.
Although the retail industry is making headway when it comes to offering consumers more diverse methods of engagement with brands and products, the underlying issue remains – it’s too linear. The entire process of mobile integration not only needs to be seamless, it also needs to be incorporated into retailers’ marketing campaigns, and not just a side project that has no real long-term aim.
Whilst consumers might be unpredictable when it comes to their shopping habits, it’s clear that an overwhelming number of shoppers are reliant on their mobile devices for researching and informing purchasing decisions. It’s no longer a case of ‘logging on’ at specific times and in certain places; the modern-day omniconsumer is active 24/7, searching for products and deals from a smartphone or tablet, most likely from a 5pm to midnight and from the comfort of their own sofa.
It is time for retailers to adjust their mind-set about online shopping and embrace the opportunities. It shouldn’t matter how customers buy from you, only that they can do it in a way that suits their lifestyle and needs.
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