Mobile marketing moving retailers from stores to screens.

It’s 2006. You’re walking into your local shopping centre listening to Akon on your iPod Nano. You need a new pillow for your sore neck so you walk into Forty Winks and take a look at their selection. You pick a few up. One in particular feels soft, cushiony, and has a tag on it that says it’s made of ‘extra cushioned foam’.  It’s exactly what you’ve been looking for, so you take it to the counter and buy.

It’s 2019. You’re at home thinking about how sore your neck is. You need a new pillow, so you pull your phone out and google ‘Pillow for sore neck buy’. The first result is a feather pillow from Forty Winks. You open a separate tab and google ‘best pillow for sore neck’, the first article informs you shredded memory foam pillows are best for a sore neck. You go back to your previous tab and find that there is a shredded memory foam pillow available at Just Bedding, right down the street from your house. You get in your car, head down to the store and purchase the pillow without looking at any other alternatives in store.

In the last 13 years, the way we shop has been completely revolutionised. Our shopping experience is no longer as simple as walking into a store, picking out an item and purchasing it. We are more informed than ever before and have a wealth of product knowledge and reviews at our fingertips.

Here’s an interesting fact: in the past 5 years foot traffic in stores has declined 57%, but the average dollar spent per visit has tripled. What does this tell us? It tells us that people are walking in with the intention to buy before they hit the shop floor. They’re not wasting their time looking at the range in store as they are already informed and have made a decision. For this reason, it is more important now than ever before that companies invest in their online communications. Although customers may be handing the money over in store, the real shopping is happening from their mobile phones, when they are doing their research and deciding where to buy.

For example in this study by Euclid Analytics shows that most smartphone owners still prefer to shop in store.

However, 90% of these people claim they use their smartphone as part of the in store shopping experience. Even when consumers are shopping the ‘traditional’ way, they are still constantly using their mobile devices to make the best purchasing decisions.

In cases of online shopping, the fact is that a lot of the time, the mobile convenience and practicality of the shopping experience can outweigh the quality of the product itself. The smartest companies have already come up with ways to make their digital shopping experience more convenient and desirable than others to get ahead in their market. Like this partnership between Elle and Samsung, where you can now shop the items in Elle magazine simply by taking a photo of them with the Samsung camera.

Elle US

Taking a look at the last decade and forecasting the future of digital marketing it is possible to say that in a few years, what the shop floor looks like will be the least important thing. It’ll be more important what your website looks like, how you communicate with your consumers digitally and what information you can give them.

For example, picture this.

It’s 2029. You need a new pillow. You jump online, do some research, and find the pillow you’d like for the best price. It’s available in the drop in store down the street. You select ‘on my way’ on the website and get an instant email response with a ticket attached. You head down to the store, and walk in. The entire store is a warehouse storage space, with a few counters near the entrance. You head to counter 1b as instructed in your email. You show the sales assistant your ticket and they pull out a bag from the storage space behind them. You grab the bag and go back to your car, and get another email letting you know your payment has been received.

Essentially, in this constantly evolving digital age we live in, it is completely unpredictable where the future of retail lies, and we cannot rely on history to inform us. For this reason businesses must stay on top of their online communications and understand their demographic as much as possible in order to ensure they are able to reach them and keep them engaged.

However, with the constant movement of the internet in the world of retail, who really knows what’s coming next?

10 thoughts on “Mobile marketing moving retailers from stores to screens.

  1. Hi Claudia, great article! You’re an awesome writer. The stuff you’ve spoken about in here is something I think about quite often. I regularly wonder what will happen to human communication and interaction as mobile marketing evolves and it concerns me (and my parents)! Although mobile marketing makes our lives easier in an increasingly time-poor society, I feel as though it prevents us from communication properly with others as we are beginning to not need sales assistants as all our questions can be answered online. Do you think maybe there are some very negative side effects of a growing mobile marketing society?

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    1. Thanks for this comment Daniella! I completely agree! Time efficiency is becoming increasingly important to us but as a result our real life interactions are suffering. I do think there are some negative side effects to retail from mobile marketing. Firstly, as you mentioned, sales assistants are becoming more and more irrelevant. That’s a lot of people who may be out of a job soon (including myself). I also think despite the fact we do much more research, we are still more likely to impulse buy and waste money online. This is because the act of purchasing seems so seamless when you don’t have to physically hand the money over. As a result i have wasted a lot of money on online purchases that I couldn’t be bothered returning because of the postage process. If I had been in store, I would have evaluated the items more closely and not spent my money in the first place! The more reliant we become on mobile marketing, the more likely this is to happen to me again. Have you had any experiences with mobile marketing that has lead you to spend money that you otherwise wouldn’t have spent if you were in store participating in a more traditional retail experience?

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  2. Good article I enjoyed reading it. It is hard to know what is likely to happen in the future like you said. Mobile devices are becoming so apart of our lives they are basically becoming part of us. When we want to check anything we are unsure of, we just get our phone out and do a quick search. Often when I am looking to buy something in store I pull my phone out to check online reviews and if I could get it cheaper elsewhere. I believe in future there will still be physical stores even though more and more businesses are selling online. Especially in the fashion industry. People will still want to try on outfits or shoes etc. But I also agree with your idea of some shops only consisting of a counter in a warehouse environment. Well I guess time will tell if these scenarios happen or not, but in the meantime as being marketers we should keep up to date with the latest trends to ensure the businesses we work for stays up to date or maybe even gain that competitive edge on our competitors.

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    1. Couldn’t agree more Matthew! As marketers our jobs will be at risk if we don’t make a conscious effort to not only keep up with, but stay ahead of trends such as retail environments changing. Being ahead of these movements is what is likely to save a lot of companies from going broke, as we have already seen so many suffer at the hands of online shopping.

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  3. Great Blog post you’ve written here. I think we can never really say what will happen and what is the future of retail as it has already changed so much already. What I do think however is that retail will never disappear. People like myself love the experience of shopping in store, seeing products in person or trying them on before buying, means we get an idea of how big or small it is, the material, quality and so on. It can also be a very social thing and I often go shopping with friends when trying to find a dress for an event or going away for a weekend with them. Online shopping will likely become more popular and squeeze out some of the brick and mortar stores that don’t ‘go mobile’ by not creating digital platforms for customers to shop there products. But I firmly believe that retailers are here to stay as the experience can’t completely be mimicked through digital and I don’t think it ever really could be, unless you think differently?

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    1. I completely agree Sarah. I do wonder though, as you said shopping in store is a great experience, which leads me to believe that in the future retailers will need to make shopping more entertaining to keep people excited. I feel as though in the future, online shopping will become so common that in store shopping will become like going to the movies, something you do when you want a fun day out rather than to just go in and quickly grab something. I feel stores will need to have more fun and interactive elements to give people more reason to come in store. Potentially things like in store events, personal stylists, custom clothing or meet and greets. Activities that are likely to engage the customer. What do you think about this?

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  4. Hi Claudia – this is a very good post. I had a similar experience to the one you mention as the future or retail. Last week I used “Click and Collect” for the first time. I purchased a weight bench at Rebel. I was doing research online when I found exactly what I wanted at Rebel. I purchased paid for it online and was notified that it was ready to be collected at the store I had chosen within four hours. I picked it up the next day. Normally I would have just had it posted to me – but the cost of that was more than I wanted to pay and I had a store near me. So I can see how the future for some retailers my be fulfilling online orders. I think this future will be interesting for products that customers prefer to touch, smell, feel, and trial before purchase – such as baked goods, perfumes, cosmetics, clothing (both for the feel of the fabric but also sizing). Online shopping has definitely made pricing more transparent – as retailers who previously were making huge margins on products – have had to lower their prices if they want to attract shoppers. Of if they don’t want to compete on price – they must come up with a superior service offering to the customer that would provide value to the customer such that they would pay more.

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  5. Thanks Cynthia! Yes I have also used click and collect before and it’s such a seamless experience. I do feel like retail is going to become more focused around this kind of quick and easy system. You do raise a good point though, there is always that factor of particular products requiring physical touch. I do believe at some stage online shopping will find a way to provide this sensory stimulation, I just have no idea how!

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  6. Interesting blog post Claudia! mobile marketing changes our shopping experience a lot. Marketers always come up with new ways to make shopping more easier and convenient for us, just like what you have mentioned where we can shop from the magazine with our mobile devices. Product search can be done instantly anywhere and anytime. I could not imagine the future of online shopping and how technology will transform our shopping experience. However, for certain product, especially clothing, I still prefer to shop in-store even though there are many online shops that offer cheap and quick delivery. Mainly because I like the in-store shopping experience when I can try on different clothes before making my purchase decision. I have wrote a blog about QR code and mobile marketing, would love to hear your thoughts and opinion about it! 🙂 https://thedigitalspace.home.blog/2019/04/28/qr-code-as-a-new-opportunity-for-effective-mobile-marketing/

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    1. I completely agree! Clothing and more personal items such as food I definitely prefer to purchase in store. It is strange however to imagine what the future could hold and how it could change our habits. I feel like technology moves so quickly that even the things that seem crazy now will feel totally normal one day.

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