I feel the need to echo Joe Grove’s recent commentary, Why we’re writing about more than kiosks. There is a place for the nuts and bolts of kiosk deployment, but the bigger success picture involves the quest to keep shoppers as actively engaged in bricks-and-mortar stores as they are with the online and mobile experience. We are partners in the retailer's battle for relevancy.
At our office last week we listened in on comScore’s report of How Mobile Is Changing the Retail Environment. Their findings give new meaning to the old Yellow Pages slogan, "let your fingers do the walking."
There is a strong and growing appetite for mobile shopping. ComScore reports that two-thirds of smart phone owners have now engaged in some form of mobile shopping. This stat encompasses a broad range of behaviors ranging from socially sharing a product recommendation, to researching prices, to purchasing via a mobile device.
Actual mobile purchasing activity is still low, with 38 percent of smart phone owners having used their phone to buy something, but the potential is huge. Fully 80 percent of respondents said they were likely to use their phone for purchasing in the future. With coming acceptance of NFC and mobile wallet payments, this will bring many into the convenience fold. Admittedly, not all of these purchases will be physical goods, but there will be a growing impact on the shopping experience at retail stores.
The Bizrate Insights/Forrester study from May 2011 further demonstrates that shopping via tablet has to be factored into the mobile equation. Sixty percent of tablet owners used their device to shop in the first half of this year. We can speculate that post-holiday measurement will show growth in tablet usage.
Observers point out that retailers must embrace the mobile shopper with value, convenience, innovation and a shopping experience that is omni-channel. Truly we must embrace all shoppers with this mindset. Already, 36 percent of mobile purchasing takes place in-store.
We are approaching a point where most shoppers will be mobile shoppers or mobile-assisted shoppers, and our solutions need to be convergent. In some cases they need to be literally mobile with tablets on stands or movable touch screens at the shelf.
As Joe Grove stated, "self-service has come to mean far more than a touchscreen in a (stationary) box." Our solutions must be the portal that enables a satisfying, omni-channel experience for the consumer.
Having digested all of the above data, the retailer’s task is still about providing shopping options so customers can accomplish tasks in the most convenient, comfortable and preferable manner. There are far more considerations factored into that equation than ever before. Significantly, the biggest reason smartphone owners give for not purchasing on a mobile device is the limitation of screen size.
Consumers are freely expressing their preferences and it is incumbent upon retailers and their partners to listen. As we seem to be breaking out of a period of somberness, I’d like to think that the ghosts of consumers, past present and future are visiting retailers this holiday season with messages about how they want to shop. We need to work with retailers to deliver the range of superior experiences that their customers seek.