Why Mobile Matters to Retailers

Dave Lawson Part 2 of a Series
In my previous post, “Improving The Retail Ecosystem” I mentioned some of the things that make the retail channel a prime candidate for integration with the mobile channel. This is an area that has been both widely discussed in mobile circles and actively explored by some of the leading brands in the market

Today, let’s take a look at the “why?” component of the scenario – why mobile should matter to retailers.

As with most things that matter in business today, revenue considerations are compelling. The bulk of all commerce (over 80%) still happens at the brick-and-mortar level, and will for some time. A low percentage increase in conversions in-store is much more compelling than a higher increase in conversions other forms of commerce (such as m-commerce.)

Before diving into those specifics, it’s important to point out that much of the success in boosting in-store sales starts with acknowledging your customer’s behaviors before they get there. What do customers do before they visit your location? There are established, funnel-convoluting wired-Web realities, like comparison shopping, access to peer ratings and reviews, and low-overhead online-only prices. With that, opportunities to proactively take more control over the in-store, physical-world scenarios are more precious than ever.

Here are some statistics from Forrester Research

  • 36% of online US adults who do not purchase online want to be able to see and touch things before they buy them; this ranges from 45% of online seniors down to 25% of Gen Y.
  • 41% of online adults who researched a product online but purchased it offline did so in order to see it before purchasing, while 37% wanted the product immediately.
  • 41% of those who most recently researched a cell phone online but purchased it offline did so because they needed to talk to a salesperson about the product.

Once these prospective customers hit your doorway, many of them enter with the high intention to make a specific purchase on that day; however, as many as 75% of customers leave without making a purchase. A big reason for this comes from an overload of information and an over-abundance of choice.

Enter the mobile device.

Today in the US, mobile subscriptions are at an all-time high at 250,000,000 (or 80% of the population as subscribers and growing). With higher speed networks, more capable phones, more choices in plans and an increasing familiarity with mobile-specific technologies, this 80% is leveraging what once was a single-function luxury to now accomplish a multitude of necessities. Email, text messaging, social networking, Web browsing, audio streaming, photo sharing, gaming, and, yes, even talking – all index exceptionally high for activity usage.

These now-essential activities are all happening on a single device that is in nearly every customer’s pockets. It’s a huge opportunity for all businesses today. For marketers, this is “reach nirvana.” For retailers, this is an open door to implement scalable solutions, without having to make much capital investment in actual hardware because consumers already possess the technology.

There are immediate opportunities for retailers. Incorporating the mobile channel into your branded in-store experiences can help solve some of the aforementioned inefficiencies In addition, designing implementations to take better care of those frustrated, overwhelmed consumers (the 75% who leave instead of buy) is an easy way to add context to your considerations.

In my next post, we’ll take a look at some low-risk, high-return integrations that focus on the reach of mobile pillars such as SMS and mobile Web.


  1. Posted November 24, 2010 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    It only makes perfect sense for businesses to go mobile because of the flood of mobile devices that get smarter each year. I think you’re right about your idea here. With retailers taking advantage of QR codes and the likes, mobile commerce is the level up from the usual E-commerce, I guess.

    • Posted November 29, 2010 at 3:32 am | Permalink

      Thanks Garious, Mobile is definitely becoming an important consideration in the marketing mix. Commerce absolutely plays a role there but more significant is the role mobility can play to deliver the right message in the right way at the right time. Next level, maybe not- A level to not ignore and to parlay into better overall results- definitely. Thanks for reading.

  2. Posted November 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I would love to understand more about going mobile. My website hasn’t planned on this but since I’m the WordPress creator, you’ve inspired me to check this out. Thanks.

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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