The face of retail is under constant metamorphosis, but its underlying foundation has perhaps been previously revolutionised only by the invention of the credit card and the advent of e-commerce.
Now, their combination has ushered in the era of m-commerce: a literally mobile technology that has quietly seeped into every corner of our lives, turning retail into a ubiquitous experience. It has changed how we view and respond to the very act of shopping itself.
Not convinced? Take a look at our list of several ways that mobile commerce is reshaping the retail landscape:
The Way Customers Select Shops And Products
The days of thinking endlessly about the product you want and consulting with a dozen people before actually the actual purchase is, for many, now a largely redundant activity. Nowadays, the Internet provides many methods of pre-shopping, a premeditative act that allows us to compare prices, check reviews, find store locations, check opening times, and check for deals – all in the palm of our hand, whether sitting in front of a screen or in an actual shop.
As customers become more empowered, with the ability to quickly gather knowledge and experience, so they also expect faster gratification. But, at the same time, customers have also become more wary of actually buying items. We expect assurances, offers and incentives. Events like Father’s Day or Valentine’s boosts sales because retailers are increasingly aware that they give us concrete reasons to buy products.
The Way Consumers Buy Items
Customers shop less and less in actual stores. With the promise of augmented reality mirrors or projections just around the corner, a reality of pure online shopping may not seem too farfetched. According to recent Google research, 84% of mobile shoppers use their phones to search products while in actual stores.
We also use our phones more to pre-shop and our tablets more in actual purchasing. An Emarketer report predicts that by 2017, tablet m-commerce sales in the U.S. will have risen to 71.5% versus only 27% for smartphones. This suggests that retailers looking to renovate their online presence to aim at m-commerce should have a variety of design options that emphasise interactivity.
The Way Retailers Advertise And Promote Products
Retailers have been increasingly responding to the m-commerce market by catering for mobile and tablet screens. This means creating well-designed, cross-platform apps that are interactive and shareable on all screen sizes, and that can remember what you have bought, your payment details and predict what you want to buy. Customers also look for flexible loyalty programs that perhaps offer mobile coupon discounts or use geo-targeting to alert shoppers to their in-store offers on the move.
The use of wireless technology like Near Field Communication, which has allowed the increase of one-click payment options like Amazon Payments or PayPal, have helped to streamline and centralise user experience, as well as provide an increasingly assured level of security. Brands also frequently use QR codes to provide a level of interactivity and communication between reality and an online browsing experience.
The Way Sites And Products Will Become Centralised
Because we are now able to view products on numerous sites and compare them – or even see competitive products directly on price comparison websites – pricing has become a transparent process. Rather than compete on pricing, marketplaces such as Amazon or Ebay focus on user experience and sheer convenience of browsing, with a vast customer base that provide valuable reviews and a hierarchy of trusted vendors. Their specially designed mobile apps also allow the customer to easily access the sites from any corner of the world at any time.
The Way The Act Of Shopping Will Change
As mobile technology evolves and adapts, so retail experience becomes ever more tailored to our personal tastes. Retailers are changing how they promote brands through interactive advertising and loyalty programs, as well as phone apps and other technology.
Meanwhile, we consumers are slowly but surely revolutionising the way we shop: we are more informed, more engaged, and have more expectations. At the same time, we are also more sceptical and less likely to purchase. We tend to endorse certain sites that have proved reliable and trustworthy. We’re more loyal, but less trusting. Ultimately, our mobile companions are providing the key to an ever-changing retail experience.
How do you think m-commerce is changing the way we approach retail? Share in the comments below.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Joey Phinn is an avid phone customizer and spends much of her time redecorating gadget interfaces. She recommends K3 Retail