The addiction to smartphones is real. In fact, people are so addicted to their smartphones that a clinical term is now dedicated to the psychological attachment people have to their devices: nomophobia, short for no-mobile-phone-phobia. The fear of phone separation is a growing trend that marketers, especially in retail, should be watching.
Now more than ever, smartphone owners and price-sensitive shoppers are using smartphones while in-store to price shop and make better informed buying decisions. In fact, 36 percent of U.S. smartphone users use devices in store to compare prices, according to one comScore study of 3,598 smartphone users.
Let’s consider the impact of this “new normal” on retailers. Brick-and-mortar retailers are battling with technology as it takes customers out of stores and drives them online. Rather than throwing in the towel, however, retailers of all sizes should instead embrace nomophobia as an opportunity to grow customer satisfaction and boost sales. Here are three ways how:
1. Get mobile friendly. comScore’s study also found that 27 percent of respondents read customer reviews while in-store; 23 percent call, email or text family and friends for feedback; and 22 percent read product details on their device.
For retailers, this means developing a mobile-friendly version of your website is crucial. As a result of Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update earlier this year, creating a mobile-friendly site is more important than ever. Google’s new algorithm gives a ranking boost to sites and pages that are mobile friendly, pushing those sites further up in search results.
Becoming mobile friendly can also bring about the need for a mobile app. In fact, 55 percent of shoppers who responded to Cisco's fifth annual retail survey said they will use a retailer’s app for or during shopping, and 34 percent claimed to use a third-party app for the same purpose. With a mobile app, retailers can effectively cater to customers’ needs for convenience and efficient shopping. For example, you can use your app for distributing special offers or money-saving coupons once customers walk in your store. Provide interactive store locating tools, information on store hours, customer service contact information and push notifications for special promotions or reminders around holidays. Retailers can also offer utility services that would otherwise need to be researched on a customer’s own time.
With mobile-friendly websites and apps, retailers can deliver on a customer's desire for easily accessible information in the palm of their hand, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
2. Accept mobile payments. With the emergence of smartwatches and new payment methods, particularly Apple Watch and Apple Pay, mobile addiction is at an all-time high. Within 72 hours of its launch, 1 million payment cards were activated on Apple Pay. With a mobile payment structure that's simple and secure, Apple Pay has created a new breed of shoppers seeking out retailers that accept this form of payment. Retailers that don’t offer Apple Pay or another form of mobile payment risk losing customers.
Forrester Research projected the mobile in-person market (i.e., people using phones to pay in-store) to be valued at $6.8 billion in 2015. This new form of payment is fast, convenient and easily accessible, which means traditional retailers must find ways to work mobile payment into their brick-and-mortar locations or risk losing the ongoing battle to e-commerce.
3. Encourage frequent upgrades. Mobile-friendly programs can tie a customer’s love for smartphones with his or her love for shopping. For example, retailers can leverage in-store trade-in programs to accelerate a customer’s device upgrade timeline. Device trade-in programs have become popular among consumers looking for ways to upgrade to the latest and greatest for less. Well-timed trade-in promotions can help retailers cut through the clutter during new device launches, while increasing foot traffic from buyers looking for money-saving specials tied to new technology investments.
Retailers looking to motivate mobile-obsessed customers should embrace an online presence to amplify in-store promotions, and offer customers mobile promotions that can only be redeemed in-store. Promoting in-store trade-in through digital channels ensures trade-in messages reach consumers who are tied to their smartphones, helping to drive them in-store. By catering to consumers who want the latest and greatest device, retailers are encouraging more spending and boosting foot traffic to stores.
Today’s consumers are more mobile obsessed than even before, making mobile shopping and targeting the “new normal” for retailers. Providing services such as trade-in that help customers upgrade for less, enabling mobile-friendly websites and apps, and embracing mobile payment options are all ways retailers can leverage this trend to boost customer satisfaction and drive higher sales.
Jeff Trachsel is the chief marketing officer at NextWorth Solutions, a provider of online and in-store electronics trade-in programs.
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