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Mobile a key differentiator for in-store shopping

The number of retailers seeing value in using mobile in-store jumped significantly in the past year, according to a new report from RSR Research.

In the report, ?The 21st Century Store: The Search for Relevance,? RSR Research found that mobile plays an important role in helping retailers drive traffic to the store and improve the in-store experience. As such, mobile can help retailers differentiate their stores.

?If you want people shopping in your stores, you have to differentiate them, make then interesting and fun, because there are too many reasons to stay home,? said Paula Rosenblum, a managing partner at RSR Research, Miami. ?If you can create some kind of engagement model with mobile media, shopping in store becomes a lot more interesting.?

RSR Research conducted  an online survey between February and May of this year and received answers from 86 retailers.

The evolution and proliferation of technology has brought retail to a turning point, where many consumers prefer to stay at home and shop online. 

?We have to be able to differentiate the store experience because, right now, it is perceived as less convenient than going online,? Ms. Rosenblum said. ?But mobile helps differentiate the experience and can help add back an element of the treasure hunt, an element of surprise , money saving elements and an element of intimacy.?

Budget allocation
The report found that 87 percent of retailers see value in using smartphones to drive traffic to the store compared with 65 percent last year.

In comparison, the number of retailers who see value in using social sites such as Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic hovered around 27 percent last year and this year.

This points to the need for optimized mobile sites that offer pertinent and easily navigated product information, accurate inventory details, integrated pricing, promotions and loyalty program offerings.

In addition, 67 percent see value of having customers use their smartphones within the store compared with 52 percent last year. And, 41 percent said they perceived a lot of value in mobile in-store use compared with only 11 percent last year.

?That?s a huge swing,? Ms. Rosenblum said. ?It?s because you can?t avoid having a smartphone anymore.?

Delivering information to customer-owned cell phones is also seen as having value, with 62 percent of retailers seeing value here compared with 30 percent last year.

However, only 18 percent of retailers say they have actually achieved a lot of value from delivering information to customer cell phones while 41 percent say they have achieved some value and 41 percent having achieved little or no value.

Forty five percent of retailers have budgeted plans to adopt technology that would enable delivering information to customer cell phones.

There?s also a big jump in the number of retailers adding mobile enabled touchpoints for store managers within the store, with 25 percent of retailers responding that they?ve been actively pursuing this for more than a year compared with 14 percent last year.

The report also points to the fact that not enough retailers have taken the steps to facilitate a valuable in-store mobile experience by adding basic in-store Wi-Fi.

?Lots of retailers are putting up mobile sites and offering location-based promotions but the problem is too many don?t have the infrastructure in place to allow the customer to use their smartphone at all times,? Ms. Rosenblum said. ?It can be hard to get a signal if there is no Wi-Fi.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode, Mobile Marketer