Smartphones changing bricks-and-mortar shopping

Smartphone shopping

The increasing penetration of smartphones is changing the way consumers shop, enabling them to head into a bricks-and-mortar store but buy via the internet, according to the head of the DMA’s mobile marketing council, Mark Brill. Speaking at the Apps World conference in London, Brill says mobile is facilitating a “big change”, with consumers able to find the product they want in a shop but buy it from a competitor via their mobile device. “The advent of the smartphone is changing the shopping experience,” he says. “People no longer need to go to another shop to buy a product, they can buy via their mobile.”

The advent of mobile commerce has been predicted for some time, but so far consumers remain wary of shopping on mobile devices due to concerns over security and privacy. Brill believes mobile predictions have often been “optimistic” but that the long-term trend is a shift to mobile. This provides a huge opportunity for companies, such as Amazon, that have the infrastructure in place to enable online shopping, as well as Google, which is hugely dominant in the mobile search space with around 95% market share. While small- and medium-sized businesses may not be able to compete on this level, Brill believes they have an advantage because they are more in touch with their customers and can build up a two-way relationship with them. “Retailers have to be conversational,” he says. “[Mobile] is not about pull and push, it’s about engaging people in a conversation. Smaller retailers can do that much better through social media, or apps, or their own website.”

LivingSocial’s UK MD, Peter Briffett, agrees. He suggests that in a mobile world it is no longer just about having an e-commerce site and that retailers need to be building apps that engage with their customers. This could include features such as check-ins or the ability to write reviews. “This is not just about pushing out offers and deals,” he says. “We have to make sure we are sticky. There are opportunities [with mobile] for local businesses to make sure people walking past are walking in.”

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