Are smartphones making sales associates obsolete?
It used to be frustrating to try and find a sales associate in a busy and/or understaffed store when you had questions. Of course, then smartphones came around and gave shoppers access to information without having to find an associate. Now, according to new consumer research, a majority of consumers prefer getting what they need from their phones rather than speaking with an associate at all.
Sixty-nine percent of shoppers prefer to look at reviews of products on their phones rather than speak with sales associates, according to a survey conducted by Kelton Global for RetailMeNot. Fifty-three percent would rather use their phones to find sales deals and promotions on products rather than ask an associate.
The conclusions support previous research showing that large numbers of Americans use their mobile devices before ever heading out to stores. Sixty-five percent say receiving mobile coupons for in-store use is important to them when shopping in stores. Sixty-nine percent say getting a personalized offer makes it more likely they will visit a store.
The good news for retailers is that Americans still prefer to shop in stores. Eighty-five percent shop in store, excluding convenience and grocery, making stops at up to three locations during the typical week. The number of visits per week goes up with younger cohorts. Millennials visit four stores per week and Gen Z visit 5.25. Younger consumers also spend more time with their eyes firmly focused on their phones.
“In-store retail is still the most important channel for consumers, and the role that mobile plays in the shopping journey is notable to retailers who want to reach in-store shoppers,” said Marissa Tarleton, CEO, RetailMeNot, in a statement. “The mobile device is the number one in-store shopping companion, which is a marketing opportunity for retailers to drive in-store footfall, incentivize sales and understand online-to-offline behavior.”
- New RetailMeNot Data Shows Mobile Devices Play a Critical Role for Consumers While Shopping in Physical Retail Stores – RetailMeNot/PRNewswire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do retailers find the right balance between developing mobile capabilities and deploying associates in stores to serve customers in the most useful ways? Are there retailers that you can point to that are currently using mobile tech and sales associates in a complementary way?