Today's shoppers have high expectations regarding the mobile experiences they get from their retailers. With the increasing number of smart phone and tablet users, what is the future of technology embedded retailing? How are retailers going to utilize it to their advantage?
Customers have more than one touch points or channels to express their buying decisions. A 2011consumer-retailer research by Demandware states that the number of consumers using internet especially through their smart phones are increasing day by day. The study also states that they are having increasing expectations regarding the mobile experience their retailers provide them with.
Smart Phones for Smart Shopping:
Smart phones, though basically are for calling; have capacitive touch screen, additional multimedia and computing features that places it close to a laptop. These hi-tech features enable customers to use smart phones for their shopping purposes.
Consumers today are much aware of the price ranges and competition regarding a product. Smart customers are always fickle minded, and web savvy ones tend to share their brand experience; good or bad across to others as well. They share their opinion regarding a product or service across the web and mobile enabled social networks.
They have the tendency to share their good experiences, and are more particular in share the negative experiences. So, to sustain their customer base, retailers need to provide their customers a pleasant experience on all touch points.
Tablets in the Retail World:
Tablets, though are similar to smart phones have additional capabilities; more resembling a laptop. Its Wi-Fi nature allows users to surf the web, and do shopping as well. An article in the New York Times states that tablets are growing in popularity among customers, and are expanding into the business markets. Tablets include variety of applications and are marketed as a point of sale solutions. It enables the retailers to offer a complete retail experience to their customers, and improve the supply chain accuracy.
Global sales of smart phones were approximately 305 million in 2010, and are expected to be around 472 million in 2011. By 2015, the figures are expected to grow drastically to reach about 982 million (Source: IDC research). Retailers need to leverage the ecommerce platform to market their products, ensure the customers with a superior and satisfactory online experience, thereby augmenting a stronger brand loyalty.
Psychology of the Mobile Shoppers:
Number of customers who do shopping with a mobile phone are still a minority. Retailers need to understand these 'early adopters' and prepare themselves to face the growing customer attitude by adopting this shopping trend. Research firm Experian Simmons states that in the US, more than 3.3 million consumers engage in shopping activities through their phones. It further states that 7% of the consumer; roughly 2.3 million of them have already made a purchase through their devices. It also reveals an interesting fact that 8% of the consumers scan the bar codes to find more product information.
Retailers need to adapt innovative strategies in adopting, and following the concept. US based retailer eBay has launched a mobile version of its website facilitating its customers to shop through their mobile phones. Some retailers also facilitate SMS facility helping the users to avail details regarding information and price of products listed online. Technology up gradation should be done enabling the users to browse through, search, check out daily deals, and proceed to buy the product through debit or credit card.
Still there are some points to be considered. Employees need training to handle the software. Though, it is the need of the hour to think smart, tablet is not a cheap purchase. Tablet manufacturing companies have not manufactured exclusive point of sale solutions. Technologists need to work on the same.
Retailer's success to a great extent depends of identifying and satisfying the customer needs. Customers of today require a pleasant shopping experience along with a consistent product, and information across all channels. Retailers need to pursue smart customers with integrated, hi-tech experiences or will end up watching their stores succumb to competition. Smart retailers need to go beyond the ordinary customer experience, and reap the benefits of rich customer experience. Smart phones and tablets will make it happen.
8) Images Retail, August 2011