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How Retailers Can Engage the Mobile Savvy Shopper


eMarketer reports that online retailer sales are growing fast, but the vast majority of consumer spending still takes place offline in local stores. Are retailers prepared to re-design their online presence, optimized for mobile device interaction, to capitalize on their customer's evolving shopping behavior?

A large portion of those in-store sales are influenced by online research, most of which is conducted at a consumer's home. But increasingly, consumers are taking advantage of the just-in-time access to information via smartphones -- to perform more of this online research while in a store, or while in transit between stores.

"While online sales are measured in billions of dollars, the store sales influenced by web research are worth trillions of dollars," said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer principal analyst.

The desktop has been the prevalent place for cross-channel shoppers to do online research, but there are signs that a significant share of this activity is now transitioning to mobile and social platforms.

Some 70 percent of consumers checked an online source before visiting a local business or restaurant, according to a survey from local content and advertising network CityGrid Media -- conducted by Harris Interactive in March 2011.

Google was considered to be the leading research source, 13 percentage points ahead of online yellow pages. Consumers also checked review sites (13 percent) and Facebook (12 percent).

More and more of that research is shifting to mobile shopping related apps -- as smartphone adoption and mobile internet penetration increase.

Retailers are beginning to understand the value of smartphones in driving traffic to their stores, and they are learning how to engage the informed mobile-savvy shopper.

According to a study by Retail Systems Research (RSR), the percentage of retailers worldwide that said smartphones have a lot of value in driving traffic to their stores increased from 20 percent in 2010 to 31 percent in 2011.

"Mobile in-store shoppers present an opportunity for store-based retailers," said Grau. "Retailers that invest in mobile technologies not only stave off competitors but create a more convenient and rewarding shopping experience. For consumers, the ability to easily find product information and access coupons and rewards, in turn, inspires customer loyalty."

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