Nearly 86 million consumers, or four out of five smartphone owners, accessed retailer websites via mobile apps in July, according to a recent report by comScore.
Brick and mortar retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy continue to trail e-commerce giants Amazon and eBay in the number of visitors despite the big boxes ramped up omnichannel efforts and ongoing investment in the past year.
Mark Donova, comScore senior vice president of mobile, said a pronounced shift in consumer behavior is simply too large for retailers to ignore, with the future of their business depending on how well they adapt to the new environment.
He said adapting isn’t always easy, especially when considering the complexity of the mobile environment, which requires optimizing the experience across multiple platforms and for both mobile websites and apps.
“The retailers who best understand how consumers are engaging in mobile shopping behaviors and design their strategies accordingly will be best positioned to capitalize on these shifting market dynamics,” Donova noted.
Economists say the stakes are high ahead of the approaching holiday season as retailers are battling one another on multiple fronts with early layaway, no fee layaway, free site-to-store delivery and intuitive search engines. There is a wide assortment of mobile applications to suggest gift selections, locate product and retailers now testing pay by phone.
“To get consumers’ attention now and hold their interest and loyalty through the upcoming holiday season, retailers should highlight their blend of physical and virtual shopping experiences,” said Alison Paul, the retail and distribution section leader with Deloitte LLP. “By providing interactive, digital signage inside stores, mobile applications, and mobile point-of-sale functionality, retailers can make a strong impression on shoppers and encourage them to return whenever, wherever and however they wish.”
The comScore study found smartphone retail audiences were more likely to reside in higher income households compared to desktop computer users.
Among smartphone audiences accessing retail destinations, nearly one in every three had a household income of $100,000 or greater, with this income segment driving a comparable 31.2% of minutes spent on retail sites and apps.
Carol Spieckerman, CEO of newmarketbuilders, says Wal-Mart has made giant strides in the past year investing in innovation with @WalmartLabs.
“They are benchmarking against Amazon in the e-commerce space, and way out in front of most other brick and mortar retailers in multi-channel development,” Spieckerman said recently.
She said Wal-Mart’s huge physical presence, efficient logistics and supply chain have to be leveraged with technological innovations if they are to increase overall marketshare among multiple channels.
The biggest hurdle Wal-Mart and other brick and mortar retailers have is that people don’t associate them with e-commerce first, so they continue to play catch up for now, according to Spieckerman.
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