Smartphones to Play Bigger Role in Shopping

Goodbye to Showrooming!

You’ve just entered the mall to do some holiday shopping, and your phone buzzes with alerts for coupons at nearby stores. This is the year mobile is really going to make a big difference in retail. (An excerpt from an article in by Hadley Malcolm).

You walk into your favorite shop, and a store employee uses an iPad to pull up the wish list you made online at home and brings you the merchandise. Then you skip the line and check out directly with the employee.

These are just some of the scenarios shoppers will encounter this holiday season as they and retailers increasingly make use of smartphones and other technology.

The biggest boon for retailers is the opportunity to present tech-toting customers with more reasons to buy a product from them vs. somewhere else, whether it’s because of the ease of scanning a QR code and purchasing the product from your phone, browsing additional inventory on an iPad or heading to a store because your phone just alerted you to deals there.

Technology is ultimately helping retailers combat showrooming – using stores to browse products while buying them for less online – as much as it’s helping consumers practice it. That’s what many are trying to do, whether with applications; tablets to let consumers browse out-of-stock products and to show video tutorials; or mobile checkout capabilities that reduce long lines by completing sales from anywhere in the store.

The art here is being able to use the technology in a way that can influence the purchase. Expect to encounter more mobile-equipped store employees, and shorter lines as you complete your holiday shopping.

The mobile devices that employees carry have apps that provide extensive product information and training, such as what a shoe is made of and its best uses. Entering a customer’s loyalty program number in the device also allows employees to track purchase history and make subsequent product recommendations.

-Tablet-assisted shopping. Retailers are setting up iPad kiosks in stores that let customers browse “look books,” as well as additional inventory, and purchase items through the tablet. IPads in dressing rooms let customers choose their own music, and additional iPad kiosks throughout the store provide the ability to look at style guides, build outfits that can be emailed to yourself or friends, or simply shop the retailer’s website.

Target is also piloting iPad-assisted experiences in some stores, with employees in the beauty department using them to help customers sort through products across brands and provide advice.

By providing in-store technology or developing apps optimized for in-store use, the retailer has more control of the customer’s experience. “You’d rather them use your experience than pull their phone out and look for the product on Amazon.”

Wi-Fi. More retailers this year will have enabled Wi-Fi in stores to support services such as mobile checkout and give ease of access to consumers using phones or tablets to research or make purchases. “People have come to expect Wi-Fi connectivity everywhere they go.” Wi-Fi also allows for cloud-based services that retailers are expected to start adopting, such as a shopping cart. If a customer shopping on retailer’s website adds products to a cart or wish list, a store employee can pull up that list via mobile or tablet once a customer is in the store and complete the transaction.

The holidays are a great time to test new strategies due to the high volume of traffic. Implementing a tech-friendly environment is all about creating a more memorable, and efficient, shopping experience for time-strapped holiday shoppers.

In the never-ending and increasingly competitive bid for consumer dollars, integrating technology that makes for an easier and more enjoyable shopping experience isn’t just about besting competitors, it’s about winning over shoppers. If you can create a better customer experience, you are going to win that customer.
Full Article:


About Georges Abi-Aad

CEO, electronic engineer with MBA in marketing. Multicultural; French citizen born in Lebanon working in the Middle East and fluent in French, English and Arabic. I have more than 30 years of proven experience in the Middle East with European know how. I am good in reorganization and in Global strategic management business. I am a dependable leader with an open approach in working with people, forging a strong team of professionals dedicated to the Company and its clientele. Perseverance is my key word. Married to Carole and having 2 children: Joy-Joelle and Antoine (Joyante!).
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