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[17 comments]

Mobile/in-store shopping getting intertwined

July 14, 2014

According to CFI Group's Retail Satisfaction Barometer 2014, 41 percent of consumers now actively use mobile apps while shopping, nearly double the 21 percent that did so in a similar survey last year.

The findings, based on a pool of approximately 1,200 consumers, found that 67 percent of 18-34 year-olds — the coveted Millennial crowd — use mobile apps while shopping. But 50 percent of 35-44 year olds and 30 percent of 45-54 year olds also use them. Overall, most consumers of all ages indicate that they have two to four shopping apps installed, which CFI said proves "mobile isn't a generational-only trend."

Moreover, while the majority of usage of mobile devices while shopping is said to be focused on price comparisons (68 percent), the current year's survey indicates usage becoming more varied. While price comparisons still lead application usage at 47 percent, nearly 45 percent of shopping app users took advantage of mobile coupling apps, 41 percent used apps to view product reviews, and 40 percent tapped their devices to research product information.

Looking ahead, consumers showed they wanted a much broader range of options, including being able to check store inventory, find products in store, manage coupons, scan products to speed checkout, for checking out, and checking loyalty balances. Overall, 51 percent of respondents indicated they would very likely use mobile apps to speed checkout when they become available.

Attempting to define "The Mobile Payoff," CFI found 55 percent of the core mobile user group — 18-44 year olds — were likely to "favor" a store with advanced mobile capabilities. Explored in other ways, a store with "robust mobile capabilities" would cause 66 percent of 18-44 year olds to shop more with a retailer, 39 percent to buy more per visit, 24 percent to drive further to a retailer, and 20 percent to be willing to pay slightly more.

Discussion Questions:

What functions missing from many store shopping apps today will be expected by shoppers over the next two to three years? Which app capabilities should stores be developing and promoting to engender loyalty and drive sales?

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Instant Poll:

Which of the following app capabilities should stores be focused on developing?

Comments:

Consumers want a seamless mobile experience, with shopping lists, coupons, loyalty cards and checkout tied into their mobile devices. Retail apps and websites need to be tailored to fit small screens. Too many that look good on a computer are difficult to use on a mobile device.

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Max Goldberg, President, Max Goldberg & Associates

Full disclosure: the coupling of in-store and digital is my bailiwick.

This poll kinda mirrors Internet use in '95-'96. The web was an obvious tool that people slowly discovered and now mobile in-store is on the same path. There's absolutely nothing surprising here.

However, there still is a disconnect. The store is essentially unchanged, save for some WiFi service. Shoppers have to get an app and bring it to the store to, for the most part, replicate research they formerly did at home. Of course, there's the shopworn location-based couponing, too.

There's a big chasm waiting to be filled with consumer interactivity that involves the customer in the discovery and product-usage realm that's grossly untapped. Augmented reality is the obvious beginning, but there are so many potential experiences that can be created to distinguish brick-and-mortar from online.

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Ken Lonyai, Digital Innovation Strategist, co-founder, ScreenPlay InterActive

The number one function will be a payment system that will allow the consumer to buy via-smartphone and bypass check out.

Ed Dennis, Sales, Dennis Enterprises

Apps that facilitate convenience and shorter trips to the store are probably in the planning stage, or maybe they're out there already. If the consumer identifies why he is going to the store, i.e., what he is looking for or wants to buy (in the case of supermarkets a list of products) the app could be an-in store GPS, showing where the items are located and the best way to get there from here, when the customer is in the store.

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Joan Treistman, President, The Treistman Group LLC

There are three things shoppers need from mobile shopping apps: price, knowledge and access.

About price: price comparison, sales alerts, discounts and couponing are few of the functions accommodating this need.

About knowledge: includes product and category information, ratings/reviews and know-how.

Finally, about access: access means agency through one's device; order and buy immediately, save-for-later functions, check inventory, get it delivered, gift-wrapped, etc.

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Liz Crawford, VP, Strategy & Insights, Match Drive

Coupon and promotion-related applications are of great value to shoppers. Next to price comparison and searching for product information and reviews, the next one that I would like to use is the option to save money through coupons or special promotions. Not that retailers don't offer these today, but they are engrossed in the larger site or other apps.

Saravanan Logu, Digital Transformation Consulting Manager, Cognizant

It would be interesting to see which apps they are using, because I suspect it is rarely the retailer's app. That's because unlike Red Laser—which has a clear intent and value proposition—most retailer apps are self-serving. That's why the Walgreen's-Google test is exciting; finally someone is trying to break through.

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Jonathan Marek, Senior Vice President, Applied Predictive Technologies

A retailer should be able to identify its loyalty customers as they enter a store and message them in context to what their interests are, leveraging their previous purchase history. Today, loyalty customers only get recognized in-store if they go to the register to buy something. The challenge is; what happens if they leave the store without buying because they found a better price elsewhere on their smartphone?

Retailers need to be able to communicate with consumers in-store as long as they have their permission to engage them and do not abuse the privilege.

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Bill Davis, Director, MB&G Consulting

Of course consumers want coupons. Why would they ever say no to a coupon? However, that creates incentives for sales, not necessarily loyal consumers. Loyalty comes from offering helpful pieces of information regularly and consistently over time. That is much more difficult than offering a coupon. Coupons can be part of the strategy, but should not be the major effort or the only effort. Coupons can be successful as part of an overall strategy to be helpful to consumers and to carry on a conversation.

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Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D., President, Global Collaborations, Inc.

It is not so much about what the mobile app is missing, but rather what it could be activating in the store that it isn't. With the exception of Aisle 411 and other in-store mapping (or locational) apps that are now attempting to bring relevant content to the shopper at or near the moment of decision, most shopping apps do not connect the shopper to what's happening in-store vis-a-vis specials, finding new items and product-related information.

Consequently, in the grocery channel, I would believe that actual mobile app engagement numbers remain much lower than those reported in this study. Providing payment options, like Catalina's ScanIT!, does add another important layer of utility, however as long as app functions remain totally contained on a sometimes difficult-to-traverse smartphone, without extending to touch-screens and other in-store interactive technology, adaption will be sub-optimal.

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Mark Heckman, Principal, Mark Heckman Consulting

The functions missing from the brand's app are the ones that are best suited to improve the shopping experience for the brand's target customer, taking into account the many aspects of the store/segment format. Endless aisle, product locator, price comparison, self-checkout, etc. are all just functions that are (relatively) easily added to a mobile app, and also just as easily ignored by a customer.

Retailers should define the elements that make shopping more fun, fast, efficient, thrifty, etc. for their customers. Then build these into interesting, fun, easy-to-use apps that give value to the customer and more data points to the retailer from which to improve future iterations of these important customers experience apps.

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Larry Negrich, Vice President, Marketing, nGage Labs

I think content and context are key attributes to mobile marketing. That goes beyond just the application. You can build brand loyalty and maximize brand value by connecting with consumers through contextual, value-added, mobile experiences. Personalized mobile touch points help build personal loyalty. In the United States alone, $83 billion is lost each year as a result of poor customer experiences. That's more than all US e-commerce revenue.

Mobile experiences make shopping more personal. 75% of mobile shoppers take action after receiving a location-based message. That's the CONTEXT. You can build lasting relationships when you change the way your mobile consumers interact with your brand. Obtain insights about their location and preferences to quickly create thoughtful mobile campaigns that make connections through timely, personalized interactions.

Make it personal. Make it compelling. Don't spam your best audience.

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Ralph Jacobson, Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Executive, IBM

Price comparisons with other retailers are going to become a basic. After that depends a bit on the type of retailer, but being able to access and buy any product that the company sells anywhere (endless aisle) will be useful as will some suggestive selling of things that help accessorize the current intended purchase. If there's something useful I didn't know about that compliments my current purchase (and an offered discount to press buy), then I'm in.

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Peter J. Charness, SVP America, Global CMO, TXT Group

This whole report sounds as phony as a $3 bill to me. I read the stories and clicked down to a half dozen links, and the only info on how the "study" was conducted is reference to "the survey." In today's world, one can presumably assume that "the survey" was conducted online with a known panel of survey responders. There were probably plenty of check-the-box questions, and this year they are getting a lot more boxes checked.

Meanwhile, in the stores, VERY few people are using a mobile app—maybe less than 10%. There is an entire industry which has sprung up to "sell" apps to retailers, and the same industry provides the eye-wash purporting to show the vast economic significance of this same ephemeral "industry." I'd like to see some hard behavioral data.

This industry wanders into misguided foolishness, at least once a decade, as a consequence of ignoring shoppers, while pretending to have their interests at heart. The industry players impress each other—shoppers, not so much. What a funny way to waste billions of dollars, and divert productive interest.

So . . . send me some hard data, shopper behavioral data that proves me wrong. ;-)

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Herb Sorensen, Ph.D., Scientific Advisor TNS Global Retail & Shopper, Shopper Scientist LLC

Retailers can add all the functions to their apps that they want, but that won't make the experience simpler and more streamlined for shoppers.

Juggling multiple retailer apps gets annoying pretty fast. Each has different rules, log-ons and functionality. They are designed to answer the demand: "Help me manage shopping in your store by getting your deals and finding products you offer."

A better solution from the shoppers' perspective would be designed to answer the demand: "Help me to manage my pantry/wardrobe/household by getting the best deals on the products I want most from all the stores I like." That's not an app I expect to see from a retailer any time soon.

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James Tenser, Principal, VSN Strategies

Honest, relevant product recommendations from experts that are supported by in-store merchandising. Tell me about your exciting new or seasonal products and then make them easy to purchase. See Trader Joe's.

Some of the existing and promised features will only to add to the cacophony of stimuli that make grocery shopping an unpleasant activity for many people. Adding additional steps to procuring stuff, such as clicking for deals, might erode profits and customer loyalty as shoppers are further trained to shop for deals while wasting time in the store.

Jacob Suher, PhD Student, UT-Austin

Smart phone apps need to appeal to shoppers with both hard benefits (e.g., discounts or points) and soft benefits (e.g., improved experience or convenience).

Delivering hard benefits in the form of offers is an essential component of smartphone apps, but the offers need to be tailored to each individual shopper in terms of the products, the discounts, the timing and the location. That requires a customer analytics foundation to feed the relevant offers to the smartphone app.

Soft benefits need to range from shopping lists that can be shared between family members with appropriate chat functionality, to detailed and accurate product information, to self-scanning and self-checkout capabilities. When shoppers can use smartphone apps to obtain both relevant hard benefits and valuable soft benefits, retailers will be able to grow their number of valuable customers and capture a greater share of valuable customers' spending.

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Graeme McVie, VP & GM, Business Development, LoyaltyOne

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