The Lowdown on “Mobile Shopping”

If you’re a small business owner, you may dread the moment when a shopper pulls out their phone in the middle of your store to check on competing prices or other things, but we’ve got some good news:

It can actually help your sales!

Recent research compiled by the Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council has revealed a number of trends that can help turn a cause for concern into an area of opportunity. Their research report provides highly useful insights into the most common behaviors of “mobile shoppers,” as well as practical tips regarding how retailers and others should tailor their mobile offerings in light of the findings.

In order to make the GSMAC’s report easily digestible, we’ve broken up our thoughts into two simple sections:

1. What “Mobile Shoppers” Do In-Store (and Before)

2. How to Make the Most of “Mobile Shoppers”

You may be wondering how common “mobile shopping” is, or even what it is. Let’s back up for a moment.

Essentially, mobile shopping is the use of a mobile device to assist with a purchase decision or related activity, or even to make the purchase itself. It’s something almost all of us have done at one point or another. In fact, about 80% of smartphone owners use their device to assist with shopping at least once each month, and about 17% are heavy users that do it once a week. In addition, 80% of smartphone shoppers will use a device while in store.

Best of all? Frequent mobile shoppers purchase about 25% more stuff! Store owners, rejoice!

So, what exactly are those mobile shoppers getting up to on their devices, and what should you do about it?

What “Mobile Shoppers” Do In-Store (and Before)

“Mobile shopping” is on the rise (mobile shopping is the use of a mobile device to do shopping-related activities), and mobile shopper activities present huge opportunities for small business owners. There are many tasks included under the umbrella of mobile shopping, however, so it pays to break things down.

To begin, as demonstrated in research compiled by the Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council, 90% of “smartphone shoppers” use their phones for a number of pre-shopping activities before they get to a store. Here are the most common tasks, sorted by popularity:

• 58% get directions to a store
• 57% get store hours
• 44% compare prices
• 44% find promo offers
• 43% browse products
• 32% find out where specific products are sold
• 31% learn more about products
• 31% see if a particular item is in stock at a location
• 30% read product reviews
• 19% make a purchase

Just getting to the store is the first thing on everyone’s mind, followed by pricing information, and then product info. This breakdown is critical to remember when it comes time to design your mobile strategy. Your address, a map, or a link to directions is a great first item to display on your business’s app. Chances are, it’s what your visitors are looking for.

Okay, so what happens after they find your store?

Once mobile shoppers reach a store, 84% will fire up their device again, and use it for 15 minutes, on average. About 33% will even use their device over asking for help! Most mobile shoppers are using their phones because it saves “time,” “money,” and “makes life easier,” in that order.

The leading in-store task?

You guessed it: price comparison!

Price comparison is most common for big-ticket items (e.g. appliances and electronics), while it isn’t done as frequently for inexpensive items such as groceries. Other popular activities break down a bit differently, depending on the type of product the shopper is looking for:

Apparel. Price comparison is first, followed by promotional offer searching.

Electronics. Price comparison is by far the most popular activity. Reading product reviews is also big.

Appliances. Price comparison is again the most popular activity, but learning about products is important, as is promo offer searching.

Health and beauty / household products. Price comparison is in the lead, quickly followed by browsing for store information.

The heaviest mobile shoppers will then go on to spend from 25-50% more than non-mobile shoppers, depending on what type of products they’re shopping for.

How to Make the Most of “Mobile Shoppers”

As we mentioned, people mainly want price information when doing mobile shopping in store. What does that mean for you?

You need prices to be visible. Your business’s app should allow people to find product prices easily.

You need prices to be competitive. This may mean a prominently featured price-matching policy. If you prefer not to compete head-to-head on prices, you can always offer unique package deals that are harder to compare.

You need to make the in-store experience valuable. With everyone comparing everything electronically, it helps to offer something special at your store that helps tips the scales in your favor.

You need to embrace technology. Using QR codes or other mobile-enabled strategies will help you stay on top of mobile shopping at your location.

You need to know what people see. Google your products on a mobile browser. Check for deals. Review the competition. Be aware of what your customers are seeing and adapt to stay competitive.

The last one is the most important one. You’ll be the best judge of the proper strategy for your business, but you can’t figure it out if you aren’t paying attention. Stay aware and you’ll be ahead of most competitors. With the vast majority of shoppers using mobile devices and with mobile shopping becoming more popular by the day, it’s just too big to avoid at this point.

So, those are a few simple facts and tips, courtesy of the folks at the Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council. We hope this post has intrigued you and inspired you to dive in to the mobile world. Those businesses that ignore it are at risk for losing serious ground to the competition.

For those who explore it, however, opportunities abound.