Retailers need to catch up with digital consumers

Consumers are adopting new technologies at a rapid pace, and retailers are struggling to keep up.

The latest annual Holiday Research Study from e-commerce technology platform MarketLive reveals that consumers treat their smartphones as shopping tools, using them to search for product availability nearby, to find coupons, and for comparison shopping while standing in a physical store.

As many as 78% of shoppers said they are likely to visit a store as a result of a text promotion, and 62% will make a purchase based on a text notification or offer sent to their mobile device whilst in-store.

What’s more, over half of consumers (55%) are now comfortable with sharing their preferences with retailers in exchange for convenience and personalised product recommendations.

“Consumers are adopting new technologies that seemed futuristic just a year ago,” said Ken Burke, founder and CEO of MarketLive Inc. “Text alerts are now an accepted way to receive coupons and promotions, and personalised product suggestions based on prior purchases or online viewing patterns are now expected.”

A majority of survey respondents are also keen to use other advanced features on mobile: 76% want technology that helps them find the exact location of a product within the physical store (e.g. aisle maps on a mobile phone), and 66% want the ability to pay via mobile device.

MarketLive also highlighted the importance of social networks, with 56% of respondents looking for gift ideas on sites like Pinterest.

“A staggering 47% with Pinterest accounts said they had purchased something online after pinning it,” Burke said.

The company advises retailers to focus on mobile shopping convenience, personalised product recommendations, and leveraging the value of social network endorsement.

“Winning retailers will have to engage…shoppers on mobile and across every channel, and use technology effectively to personalise promotions and capitalise on evolving social dynamics,” said Lauren Freedman, president of market research firm the e-tailing group, which conducts the Holiday Research Study.

“Customers are becoming more comfortable with sharing their preferences with retailers in exchange for convenience and personalised product recommendations.  But that doesn’t mean consumers aren’t cautious about how and where they share that data and what they get in return.  Retailers need to be upfront with their customers as to what data they are collecting and how they are going to use it. The challenge is to be brief and fit the communications channel being used. All retailers should review, and update where necessary, their data privacy and security policies and consider how they get buy in to them.”

 – Jon Fell, Partner, Osborne Clarke 

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