The mobile shopping trend has created more than a few waves for online commerce, but the capabilities of smartphones are also adding value in some less obvious places. Although it may seem like mobile hosting is more of a concern for online retailers, businesses like Walgreens have begun exploring ways of using applications to increase sales, according to Bloomberg columnist Mark Milian.
Milian highlighted one trend in particular: The popularity of mobile mapping apps. A number of startups have been created in order to reach mobile users by partnering with larger businesses and mapping their stores. For example, a partnership between Walgreens and Aisle411 resulted in the mapping of 7,900 U.S. locations. And it isn't only retailers that have enabled such partnerships. Google has been working on mapping the interior of museums, and several other large companies have formed partnerships to begin mapping a variety of locations to develop apps similar to the one deployed at Walgreens. In the case of retail, many businesses are finding ways of improving sales not only by helping users find what they're looking for, but by using apps to offer deals to consumers.
"Advertisers and retailers are increasingly turning to mobile apps as a way to get shoppers to spend more when they’re at the stores," Milian wrote. "Some apps reward consumers just for walking in, while others may alert users to special deals or provide them with coupons."
Mobile users don't always buy, but...
Many retailers have also begun implementing mobile payment options in order to offer more convenience for smartphone and tablet users. A recent study by Ryerson University found that only one-third of smartphone owners use their mobile devices to buy products, but two-thirds conduct research on retailers and goods.
The study also uncovered the activities mobile shoppers most often engage in. Sixty-two percent of respondents look up store hours, while 59 percent search for locations. What may be more surprising is that the majority of those surveyed preferred shopping in physical stores. This study counters claims that mobile technology has hurt traditional retail, but also identifies areas that brick-and-mortar stores should consider.
For example, the smartphone usage data suggests which information to prioritize when designing a mobile version of the company website. Ecommerce platforms which offer mobile templates can ensure that important store information is readily available, while a reliable mobile hosting provider can help to ensure that consumers can access store hours and product information quickly.