Smart Phones and Connected Consumers
Jolly Old St. Nicholas, lean your ear this way. Or, lend me your iPhone. Either will do.
Holiday shopping can be the most stressful time of the year – for Santa’s “elves” (aka Macys, Target, Best Buy and Main Street) as well as the patrons desperately searching for the best deal on Let’s Rock Elmo. However, the perception is that when consumers add smartphones into the mix, the scales tip in their favor, leaving the stores the task of merrily matching their competitors’ prices.
There are stores, such as Lowes, that are embracing the mobile wave this shopping season. Corporate issued over 42,000 iPhones to their employees in 1,700 stores with a simple task: help the customer. Store employees were instructed to access inventory, check prices and refer customers to other stores if the product wasn’t in house. It’s a little “Miracle on 34th Street,” but it gets back to the basics of customer service. Who knew that new technology would help stores get back to old school principals?
However, even with all the excitement that comes from finding that exact same TV $25 cheaper at Target than Best Buy or the thrill of asking for a price match, consumers are still not entirely happy about mobile usability.
According to a study release by Tealeaf Technology, a consumer analytics company specializing in optimizing web, 58% of the negative conversations about mobile shopping with leading mobile retailers was focused on “customer struggle issues” such as payment and search-and-sort problems.
Additionally, 21% mentioned features that would have simplified the mobile buying process to make it more intuitive – but were not available on that version of the website/application.
On the flip side, only 17% said the mobile sites and applications they used were easy to utilize.
Overall, the study is one indication of a popular viewpoint: mobile is a huge market – that isn’t even close to reaching its full potential.
So what does this mean for brands? Holiday shopping is automatically following the growing trend of smartphones overtaking desktop computers by 2013 and undeniably, online retail shopping is making a comeback. Since 2001, there have been seven online shopping days that have surpassed 1 billion in spending. Six of those days were this year with Cyber Monday leading the pack with 1.25 billion – the largest online spending day in history. This gives brands, of all shapes and sizes, the ability to set themselves apart digitally and harness a bit more of the coming flux in holiday spending power.
It sounds simple. The best thing brands can do for their business during the holiday season to increase their online sales is to have an intuitive, mobile-friendly, mobile-optimized or even application with easy to use features. Want to buy that TV from Target while standing in Best Buy? Of course you can. Don’t feel like driving back to pick it up? The store will hold it for you or ship it to your house the next day. Automatic price comparison of the top three competitors for this particular TV? Always available with a barcode scan. Features and tools like these not only simplify the buying process, they are a value-add to the consumer.
We’ve all heard the adage: the best gifts really do come in small packages. The brands paying attention to those small packages (mobile devices) are the ones who are getting the best gifts (happy stockholders).