“Though everything changes, nothing is lost,” the saying goes — and that certainly holds true for the retail industry.
A recent study by Local Corporation, conducted in partnership with the e-tailing group, uncovered that in spite of the broad adoption of smart devices, shopping apps and a propensity for online research, 90 percent of consumers still embrace the physical store when making retail purchases.
Also, advertising continues to play a significant role in a consumers’ choice of shopping destinations.
In just a few short years, smartphone usage has radically influenced shopping behavior. As a result, the path to purchase has been altered, or so it seems, from a relatively predictable, linear progression to something much more fluid, unpredictable and personal — with a variety of channels and options being accessed throughout the shopping experience.
Our research examines the causes of this more convoluted path to purchase, showing that smartphones have contributed to the rise of a more educated shopper. The results showed that 74 percent of respondents reported using a smartphone at least once in the past three months to compare prices prior to a store visit, 61 percent conducted a price comparison at least once from inside a store and 64 percent checked ratings and reviews while inside the store.
But while increased smartphone use and a price-sensitive consumer present unique challenges for the retailer aiming to capture the web-savvy shopper, our cross-channel research also shows that the traditional store is still key.
Nearly half of consumers (47 percent) report using smartphones regularly for location-based information, 46 percent report looking up prices on a specific store’s mobile site where they intend to shop and 42 percent check inventory prior to shopping in the store. With consumers conducting this type of research prior to shopping, advertisers are presented with new points at which to interact with an audience that is on the verge of purchasing, and potentially impact where and what consumers decide to buy.
The good news is that mobility doesn’t fundamentally change the behavior of the educated buyer — the latter takes advantage of mobile Internet for research, but often remains focused on a path that leads to a chosen retailer. Once inside the store, the responsibility for converting the shopper shifts to the retail associate and supporting in-store experience, both of which need to be amped up and supported along with competitive product offers.