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Time to rethink what you know about your customers?

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While much of the news around Christmas retail have been a bit downbeat, the revelation this week that Yoox Net-A-Porter saw a massive 96% of its Cyber Monday sales come through mobile largely went un-noticed. The fact that it rounded off a year where the online retailer also rocketed past the 50% of sales being from mobile marks this out as a truly awesome bit of news. But what it really shows is that Yoox knows what customers want.

It seems, looking at the results from across Christmas, that on balance those that have a good online and mobile presence, did better across the board than retailers not famed for being smartphone friendly.

Last week we saw that some top retail names – Next, Adidas and Ticketmaster among them – showing up for losing as much as 8%. This week we see that the likes of Yoox and Arcadia Group are much more mobile-centric and see the smartphone as part of the solution to the falling footfall and click-fall rates that many others are suffering from.

Yoox Net-A-Porter is something of star in pureplay retail circles and from a mobile point of view has really shown that mobile is the future of online retailing. But it is looking at how omni-channel retailers that also have a high street presence use mobile that is going to be key this year to turning around ailing retail fortunes.

While Arcadia Group is trialling how mobile can help contribute data to a project to understand how people shop across stores, the web and mobile devices will, it hopes, deliver a means to personally target shoppers with the kind of offers and content they want.

While not a totally mobile play, this does show how mobile is going to be crucial to driving footfall in stores in 2018, as well as the role of personalised (read ‘mobile’) marketing.

This move to mobile to drive engagement and footfall is echoed elsewhere this week. High street spending in the run-up to Christmas saw sales increase at the slowest rate since 2012, but innovative mobile technology could hold the answer to combating this challenge and help retailers reduce the friction in a retail environment and create the very best of customer experience – and increase in-store conversion rate.

So suggests the study by Censuswide, which on behalf of Qmatic surveyed 1,370 consumers over the age of 16 across the UK to find out some of the issues that put consumers off about shopping in-store during the Golden-Quater period.

And it isn’t just pie-in-the-sky analyst speak: shoppers are actively seeking out how to use mobile to help them shop and it does drive them into stores. According to Bazaarvoice in its second ROBO research report, 45% of brick-and-mortar buyers read online reviews before purchasing products, marking a 15% YoY increase. However, online research doesn’t stop when shoppers are in the aisle; 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store.

The biggest product categories being researched online before being bought offline are appliances (59%), health, beauty and fitness (58%), and toys and games (53%). These were followed closely by electronics (41%) and baby merchandise (36%).

Interestingly, from 2015 to 2017, searches for what have traditionally been considered low consideration products – such as “best umbrellas” – have grown faster than those for high-consideration products, such as “best mortgages”.

What is interesting is that shoppers are shaping how they themselves use omni-channel and it often is at odds with what the ‘experts’ and the retailers themselves think. The fact that they are looking at reviews first then purposely going to the store is news in itself – this is not how we all thought it would be… reverse showrooming seems more popular than showrooming.

Similarly things shoppers are looking for are not the high value things, they are the basics and simple things.

So to be successful in 2018 you need to truly have a mobile centred omni-channel strategy in place, but perhaps more than that you need to really understand what your customers are doing and what they want. And that is a job for mobile too.

• IMAGE: Flickr by Antonio Roberts

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