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Mobile Shoppers, an Opportunity for Retail?

Consumer shopping patterns this holiday season point to a very clear trend: mobile shopping is increasing in popularity.

In the past, mobile and online shopping have been viewed as a threat to traditional brick-and mortar stores, but Brent Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing at Saint Joseph's University, sees an opportunity for retailers to connect with tech-savvy consumers through their mobile devices.

According to the online payment service provider PayPal, the number of people shopping on mobile devices shot up by 173 percent on 'Black Friday' compared to the equivalent day in 2011.

"It's a make or break time," says Smith. "Retailers must tap into mobile devices will gain a competitive edge. Otherwise, they risk being perceived as out-of-touch, hurting their top-of-mind awareness, and becoming irrelevant."

For retailers that recognize the importance of engaging mobile shoppers, Smith offers the following five tips:

1. There's an app for that. Make it easy for shoppers to learn about your products, special promotions and where to get them.

2. Don't be obnoxious. Rather than deluge consumers inboxes with daily emails, make them feel special and give them unique offers; such as expiring QR codes accessible or redeemable only via a smartphone.

3. Do market research. Learn who is most likely to buy your product. Which buyers are most likely to bite on early deals? What level of discount tends to attract certain buyers? Who are your last minute or impulse shoppers?

4. Have a mobile-friendly website. In a recent Google survey, 67 percent of people said they are more likely to buy from a site that is mobile-friendly. Conversely, people said that if a site didn’t work well with their mobile device, it was an indication that the company didn’t care about their business.

5. Market to multiple segments. Expect buyers to utilize multiple methods for accessing information about products and discounts. Retailers should direct marketing efforts toward multiple segments — mobile devices, social media, website and in-store.

Smith can be reached by e-mail at, by phone at 610-660-3448 or by contacting the Office of University Communications at 610-660-1355.

B. Smith | Newswise
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