Smartphones have taken the world by storm as many Canadians can be seen walking around with smartphones in hand everywhere you look. It is hard to imagine a world without them now that we have become so reliant on them.
Canadians use their smartphones in various ways. Making phone calls, texting, accessing the Internet and email, accessing social media, buying various apps, researching and purchasing are some of the many activities people perform on their smartphones.
Smartphones transform the shopping experience and retailers have been busy keeping up to this new way of conducting business.
Some of the different activities consumers use their smartphones for include comparing prices with competitors, locating the physical store and researching products and related information.
Users have the ability to search for all types of information anytime and anywhere since their mobile phones are usually with them all the time. This leads to higher levels of searching and consumer knowledge than we have ever seen before.
According to a 2013 report by Google Canada and Ipsos MediaCT, 56% of the Canadian population has smartphones and these users are becoming increasingly reliant on their devices. 66% access the Internet every day and most never leave home without it.
The report also states that 77% of users have researched a product or service on their device and these research influences buyers’ decisions and purchases across channels. A total of 54% were at home when researching a product on their smartphone and 29% were in store.
But does all this consumer research transform into sales? Apparently it does since 32% of those polled researched on the phone and then bought on the computer, while 37% later purchased in-store.
Even the checkout experience is being transformed by mobile as some retailers offer consumers the convenience of paying for purchases through their phones instead of waiting in long lines at the checkout.
Starbucks offers this service as customers can order their coffee through their mobile device and then show up and use their mobile device to pay as well. This is a company that is leading the charge in customer mobile offerings.
Smartphone providers like Telus, Rogers and Bell have partnered with banks to allow consumers to use their phones to pay for select merchandise and items. Rogers has also partnered with major shopping centre owner RioCan, to allow customers to pay with their phones and receive targeted, real-time offers while shopping.
According to David Robinson, VP or emerging business at Rogers, Canada is primed for payment transformation like no other country in the world.
The next wave of mobile usage may be from the information that can be gleaned from smartphones. For example, the radio technology in your smartphone that allows you to connect to Wi-Fi allows bits of information to be given in regards to your general location.
As an example, a storeowner could find out that you always come directly after work when going to their store or that you typically frequent another type of store first. While in store, beacon signals can also read where you are in the store and customize appropriate sales for you to read.
Mobile can also be used in conjunction with loyalty cards as can be seen from Loblaw’s recent PC Plus update online and on mobile devices. The program is customizable as shoppers purchase patterns allow the program to individually tailor deals specifically to each customer.
As successful as mobile has been to date, it is not without its problems. In particular, many consumers worry about the security of credit card payments and some consumers also feel that the screens on smartphones are too small.
So what does this all mean? Retailers must ensure that their sites are designed for mobile so that mobile users can easily navigate through various sites and retailers must also present consumers with different platforms or increased Omni-channel usage with which to support the overall buying process.
Mobile has taken off and consumers will continue to increase mobile usage as retailers look for new, innovative ways to use mobile technologies to aid in the purchase process.