Top Retailers Weigh In on Mobile Use In-Store

Today, shoppers are turning to their mobile devices to influence 50% of all retail sales. Digital is now a major player along the entire customer journey – including when they are in-store. Retailers need to ensure that their mobile strategy takes this behaviour into account as the mobile experience should integrate seamlessly with the in-store experience.

To learn more about how shoppers are using their mobile devices in-store – and how retailers are taking advantage of this behaviour – we hit the streets to talk with store associates from top lifestyle brands like Old Navy, Sephora, Forever 21 and Lululemon.

What We Learned

1. Shoppers are well-informed when they walk into stores.
An increasing number of shoppers are coming into stores with the items they want to purchase already displayed on their phones. They come into the physical store to see the products in-person and to try them on. This behaviour gives retailers the opportunity to increase revenue through customer interactions with store associates.

  • Shoppers are engaging with store associates, giving them an opportunity to upsell
  • Shoppers are closer to the buying stage before entering the store, making it easier for store associates to close the sale

By interacting with the customer at multiple touchpoints (online and in-store), retailers have the opportunity the give customers a consistent and complete brand experience.

Key Takeaway: Help shoppers find products in-store. It’s easy for customers to search for specific products online, but if they walk into a store and can’t easily find that product then you may lose a sale. Ensuring shoppers can easily locate products in-store may take the form of associate training, verifying inventory is accurate, or adding navigation for larger stores.

2. Conflicting information online and in-store may prevent shoppers from buying.
Shoppers browse products through multiple channels during the research stage of their buying journey. We learned there are two key scenarios that cause frustration for shoppers when moving between channels.

1. When in-store inventory doesn’t match what’s outlined on the website.
2. When in-store promotions do not match online promotions.

Customer frustrations from channel-specific promotions often hurt conversion rates on all channels. Shoppers may leave the store with the intention to buy the product online later if they know they can get it cheaper through the website, but then never get around to it. Alternatively, shoppers may avoid purchasing an item in their size online because they noticed it was cheaper in-store, only to realize that the retailer doesn’t have their size in-store.

This doesn’t mean that promotions across all stores and channels must match, but it does mean that the possible impact on customers needs to be considered when creating channel-specific promotions. Retailers should also consider whether or not store associates should be empowered to honour online sales in-store to save a purchase.

Key Takeaway: Consider how information and promotions offered through your digital store will affect a shopper’s visit to a physical store.

3. Digital stores can be a tool for sales associates to make and save in-store sales.
We spoke with some retail leaders where store associates are already set up to take advantage of the brand’s digital store. Store associates were able to refer to the additional information and/or inventory on the website to help shoppers complete a purchase before leaving the store. In the best cases, associates could complete the purchase for the customer on a portable device without even having to take the customer to the till – now that’s an integrated shopping experience!

A few key reasons why associates bring up the online store include:

  • Additional product information
  • Additional inventory
  • Availability of out-of-season items

We found the biggest hurdle to encouraging associates to turn to the website was attribution. They avoided sending shoppers online if there was no way to attribute the sale to themselves or their store.

Key Takeaway: Offer tools and attribution strategies to enable in-store associates to take advantage of additional information and inventory available through the website.

Mobile Behaviour In-Store

Mobile devices aren’t just used at home or on-the-go, they are actually influencing the in-store shopping experience. Retailers can’t afford to create siloed shopping experiences on each channel, they must be provide an integrated shopping journey across channels.

Our discussions with store associates from some of the top lifestyle brands confirmed that retailers have the opportunity to take advantage the customers’ mobile behaviour in-store to increase sales and provide a seamless shopping experience.

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