The smartphone has become the device of choice for shoppers visiting John Lewis online said the company as it reported on retail trends for the past year. For the first time, the majority of online shoppers (42%) are visiting the John Lewis website via their smartphone, rather than desktop or tablet, and the number of orders placed on mobile phones is up by 35%.
The retailer also reported that customers are being much more specific about what they are looking for on the site, using more search words and filters to narrow down their options.
A knock-on effect of the rise of smartphone use amongst its customers is a drop in sales of alarm clocks as people opt to use their smartphone instead. John Lewis reported that sales of alarm clocks are down by 16% and that it has reduced its range of alarm clocks by 30%.
Smartphones and mobile behaviour are now impacting every area of retail so in this issue of InternetRetailing we take a look at the current trends, innovations and direction of travel for all things mobile and how the latest developments are changing retailers, staff and customers.
In two separate features, InternetRetailing’s Mobile Editor Paul Skeldon looks at whether developments in m-commerce mean the end for mobile apps and whether there’s a disconnect between what consumers say they want from mobile technology and what retailers are offering.
People don’t want just technology, nor do they just want ‘old fashioned retail’. Instead consumers inevitably want the perfect balance of the two: technology to add convenience and people to answer those more tricky questions.
However, as his article says, retailers may enthuse and embrace technology as a means of reviving sales, but unless customers can see the benefits personally, it could be wasted investment.
He says: “There is no denying that the Amazon Go idea has shaken up in-store retail. Without it pushing ahead with its high-tech solution to the perennial bugbear of having to queue up to pay, we are unlikely to have seen Tesco, Sainsbury’s Co-op and Budgens press ahead with their own ‘scan and go’ technologies.”
Scan and go does herald a new era of efficiencies for both retailers and consumers. Consumers can forego the tills and the queues, avoid human interaction (if they want to), pay without needing to bring their card or carry cash, and reduce their wallet size by having their loyalty cards stored neatly on an app.
Retailers, on the other hand, may benefit from increase in customer through-put, customer satisfaction, reduced requirements to deal with taking payment in-store and increased insight into their customers’ behaviour.
But where do retailers sit regarding the legality of scan & go now that GDPR is being enforced? Gayle McFarlane and Charlotte Walker-Osborn, both of Eversheds Sutherland, discuss whether GDPR places limitations on these benefits and what retailers need to do differently to comply with regulations.
Elsewhere in the issue, we examine how else ‘location’ is impacting on m-commerce and how mobile is helping to streamline operations in store. The deployment of mobile computers can help retailers empower their disengaged staff, offering them the same ease-of-use and interactivity they are accustomed to in their leisure time. This can not only make employees more productive and efficient, but also help improve the overall customer experience. As mobile devices and data access match the features and functionality of the smartphones used by customers, they can help enhance their interaction with retail staff.
So, as we head towards another Christmas and new year in retail, I’ll leave you with the soundtrack of Elton John playing the piano while @John Lewis answers the Christmas messages on behalf of the real John Lewis @jlandpcustserv and Visa advertising the virtues of shopping on a local high street while singing “All I want for Christmas is you.”
I’m off to see what Black Friday bargains are being delivered to IR Towers.