Shopping Around For Cheap Prices [Not Mobile Payments] Is The Most Popular In-Store Activity Among Mobile Users, Says Google

Posted: May 9, 2013 in eCommerce, Mobile, Technology
Tags: , , , , ,

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Most people may not yet be using smartphones to
pay for goods when they are out shopping, but that
doesn’t mean that they are not glued to their handsets
anyway. Some research out today from Google
indicates that among smartphone owners, some 79%
can be classified as “mobile shoppers,” using their devices for some aspect of the shopping experience,
from finding store locations through to finding goods.
On top of that, among those who use smartphones for
any kind of shopping or browsing, some 84% do so in
physical stores. And when it comes to investing in
experiences that consumers like, retailers should stick to mobile web sites: 65% of consumers prefer
these to apps. This means that while we are still slowly inching
towards for one of the holy grails of mobile commerce
— using devices for actual transactions at the point
of sale — there are still plenty of retail opportunities
to snag people along the way. “Some stores promote their expanded inventory online
or implement a price match guarantee to retain
savings-hungry shoppers. Others are putting
smartphones to use with QR codes that share more
information about products, or apps with store maps
and real-time inventory,” writes Adam Grunewald, Mobile Marketing Manager for Google, in a blog post.
“Whatever tactics marketers choose, it’s clear that
smartphones are changing the in-store experience,
and that winning the key decision moments at the
physical shelves mean owning the digital shelves
too.” And while Google didn’t spell this out, this research
also speaks to how Google appears to be spending
less time these days pushing its own mobile wallet
solutions, and more time presenting itself as an
enabler of more holistic mobile shopping experiences. Working with retail research group M.A.R.C.
Research, the Google Shopper Council surveyed
some 1,500 consumers who indicated that they use
their smartphones for some form of shopping activity.
Apart from finding that the vast majority of them use
the devices in stores, they found the the average time spent on shopping-related activities devices was
around 15 minutes. Within that, the most popular
service was not so much shopping, as it was
shopping around: some 53% of respondents said that
they used their devices for price comparison
searches. The second-most popular service was closely related: it was looking for offers and
promotions (39%). After that it was store practicalities
— finding store locations (36%) and opening hours
(35%). Google and M.A.R.C. also looked into how users were
using handsets in the lead up to going to stores. As
you would expect, some of those practicalities around
store logistics are more popular at that time. (These
results also closely mirror some of the predictions
that Google made about how mobile shopping was likely to play out in the months ahead.) In reality, retailers potentially are caught between a
rock and a hard place when it comes to mobile
commerce. Short of them gaining the expertise and
making the investment to capitalize on this
themselves, there are a number of third parties
tackling the opportunity of targeting shoppers who use mobile devices, and capitalizing on it. Startups like
Shopkick, which in January of this year told me it was
already profitable, has built a business partnering with
major retailers like Best Buy and Target to offer users
deals on goods while they are in store, with the offers
pushed to them just as they are in the vicinity of the products. Shopkick says that usage of its app
contributed to some $200 million in sales in 2012. On the other hand, there are others that are actually
seizing the opportunity afforded by smartphone usage
to offer users cheaper alternatives that can be found
via e-commerce channels. When Amazon launched
its price check app in 2011 — a way for shoppers to
quickly look up items just before buying them in store to see if they can find cheaper alternatives online
(and on Amazon) — Forbes noted that it “may be evil,
but it’s the future.” The Google research seems to indicate that there is a
clear opportunity to target avid smartphone users, as
well as to encourage people to use their smartphones
more: in general people using their mobile devices for
shopping turn out to be bigger shoppers in general,
with those buying health and beauty products increasing their median “basket size” the most, by
some 50%. (Incidentally, Google doesn’t give any
breakdowns between how males and females fare in
these categories.) In the wider world, apps have come to dominate how
many interface with their mobile devices, but
interestingly when it comes to retailers, mobile web
experiences appear to be preferable to consumers.
This may be because it is far more likely that a user
will just want to look up information about something quickly rather than take the time to download an app
in order to obtain information. Unlike Instagram, e-
mail or your favorite game, it may be less likely that
you will be returning to a retailer’s app on a regular
basis enough to merit parking it on your handset. Some of the research seems too directly self-serving
to Google’s own interests — for example the stat that
some 82% of mobile shoppers use mobile search to
help make purchase decisions. But on the whole
some interesting insights into the ever-growing
connection between our smartphones and our wallets. The full research report can be found here.

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