A surprising finding from CFI Group's Retail Satisfaction Barometer 2014 was that 41 percent of respondents said, given the choice, they would prefer a retailer provided them with a mobile device to use while shopping. The remaining 59 percent favored their personal device.
The findings admittedly "surprised" CFI given that most of the popular press has focused on phone-based mobile shopping apps, and personal devices are largely the only option at stores offering a mobile experience.
CFI believes what the customer is looking to do plays a large role in whose device they prefer.
"We suspect that doing such personal things as managing one's shopping lists, accessing purchase history and loyalty club information, and paying for items at the cash register will favor personal devices," CFI wrote in its report. "Doing less personal things such as locating merchandise (in-store and nearby stores), scanning items for checkout, and reading product reviews may continue to show a willingness or preference for doing these activities on a store-provided device."
For its 2015 report, CFI also intends to clarify "whether by 'store provided' people are really thinking of a mobile device or rather very conveniently-located kiosks for example."
By all indications, the only chain providing a comprehensive in-store mobile device is Ahold's Stop & Shop chain, which has been testing Scan-It! Hand-helds since 2007. The devices enable shoppers to "Scan and bag your groceries as you shop and sail through checkout" while gaining personalized offers.
A survey last year of Ahold shoppers who used hand-held scanners from Catalina Marketing, which is working with Ahold on the test, indicated 71 found them very helpful, 47 percent said they are easy to use and 41 percent said they save time and make shopping fun. Still, only 15 percent of Shop & Stop shoppers regularly used the devices in 2012, according to Catalina's findings. A Scan It! mobile app was introduced in 2013.
Scanners are also available for wedding registries at many department and home goods stores such as Williams & Sonoma, although many are now offering similar capabilities through apps.
How available should store-provided devices be for those reluctant to use shopping apps on their personal devices?