Consumers are pulling out their mobile before their wallet – why shopper marketing is the foundation to mobile commerce

Since the dawn of industrialism, we’ve witnessed shifts in the balance of power between stakeholders in the retail/shopper value chain. In recent years, we’ve watched the introduction of technology innovation and seen the powerful role that technology (more specifically, mobile technology) has in the shopper marketing space. 

In this series, I will be discuss the role of mobile technology in the shopper marketing space and how it has had profound impacts on three key stakeholders: the consumer, manufacturer/packaged good company, and the retailer.

In the 80s and 90s, retailers benefited more from technology than manufacturers and consumers, with improvements in distribution, promotion and more importantly with the new point-of-sale systems. Retailers used the reams of data they collected courtesy of transactions to gain operations efficiency, make more informed business decisions and became better merchandisers.

In the 90s and 2000s, the Internet caused a paradigm shift in the way consumers make purchases from retailers, creating a change in the balance of relative power from retailers to consumers. In this information age, virtual storefronts abound and consumers were able to access reams of data and knowledge about retailers, goods and services from the comfort of their desktop/laptop.

Fast forward to the present and the pivotal role that mobile plays in relation to shopping and commerce.  I would point to the launch of the iPhone as a catalyst event which is the Internet age on steroids, bringing the social aspects of the medium directly into the shopping experience for consumers.

Mobile and social have created a never-before-seen infrastructure of completely connected devices, giving consumers enormous power. In my experience, it’s often the consumer who is at front of the pack when it comes to using technology to enhance transactions. Many marketers would echo this statement and, as a result, they are part of a new movement known as shopper marketing. This movement is rooted in the belief that consumers go through a journey to purchase. There are several paths in this journey with multiple starts, stops and detours along the way, but one thing is constant – accompanying the consumer on the journey is their trusted and most intimate of devices – their smartphone. 

Before cash, credit or debit cards are pulled from their pockets, consumers are pulling out their phone:

  • One in three shoppers use their smartphone to search for store locations
  • Approximately 20 % use their mobile device to comparison shop, look for coupons or deals or research product features
  • 17% use their phone to check product availability or make shopping lists. (comScore Inc. as per eMarketer,“State of the US Online Retail Economy in Q3 2011,” Nov 15, 2011)

In 2011, retailers participating in “The State of Retailing Online 2012” research (released by Forrester Research Inc. and, May 2012) said that mobile generated 4.7% of total web sales (3.2% being tablet users and 1.5% smartphone users).   Mobile commerce is here – AND I believe these numbers under-represent how impactful mobile is to the consumer shopping experience. 

Even as we speak, the landscape changes and there are more apps and tactics entering the mobile marketplace daily to enrich and deepen the mCommerce experience for consumers.  Here is a look at the various touchpoints consumers have within their current mobile shopping experience: 

With predictions that mCommerce transactions will grow exponentially (as much as 400 percent) in the next four years, the importance of this relatively new marketing medium cannot be denied.

In my next post on mobile shopper marketing I'll provide a detailed checklist of features and functions to consider on your mobile roadmap during each stage – pre-store planning, outside the store, in aisle/at shelf, at checkout and post-shopping experience.

As always, comments and questions are welcomed.

Brady Murphy



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Tags: Mobile, Ecommerce, Customer Service, Digital, Retail, Advertising, Technology