What happens when you cross a mobile digital platform with a shopping platform? A retailer’s nirvana. In its Third Annual Mobile Shopper Study, Synchrony Financial explores how far away from retail nirvana merchants really are (since consumers are ready, willing and able to hop on board).
Unlike the reports of Mark Twain’s death back in 1897 – that he quipped were “greatly exaggerated,” the reports of mobile usage by consumers is anything but. And, according to Synchrony Financial’s latest white paper, consumers are embracing mobile as a tool to assist with their shopping with even more fervor than ever. This year’s study, which surveyed 5,516 Synchrony Bank cardholders and 1,209 national random shoppers, finds that 45 percent of respondents performed some type of shopping-related task on a mobile device, 29 percent used their mobile device to research a product and 18 percent purchased with a retailer via mobile.
But, in some sense, that’s the easy part. What’s not so clear is the extent to which merchants are doing everything they can to meet the needs of these shoppers who are not just using mobile devices but using them everywhere, including in physical stores while making their purchases.
MADE FOR MOBILE
One of the key insights of Synchrony Financial’s Mobile Shopper Study speaks to the seamless relationship that can be established between a mobile digital platform and a shopping platform. Where these two paths cross is retail’s nirvana – the place where merchants have the potential to capitalize on the high usage of digital technology for shopping and retail-related activities. Smartphones and tablets provide retailers with a myriad of options and tools that can be used to better attract and engage mobile shoppers.
But nirvana is about customizing the mobile shopping experience. It can be as simple as creating specialized mobile alerts for customers when certain products are made available or go on sale, or as enhanced as developing a website that is optimized to support a customer's experiences, whether they are shopping from a desktop computer or a tablet.
But in order to provide a truly “omni” experience, retailers must also ensure a consumer’s time spent shopping in-store is just as digitally enhanced. This can be done by offering increased loyalty and rewards benefits for cross-channel behaviors, as well as meeting the expectation of free shipping/returns from stores or online.
KNOW THE AUDIENCE
Who’s using these devices and why is critical to reaching this retail nirvana. For example, the preference and use of social media to engage with brands and seek out products varies widely based on generational differences, the white paper explains. Based on Synchrony Financial’s research, 52 percent of those surveyed who are millennials said they have purchased a product because they saw it on social media, up 11 percent from 2014, while only 18 percent of baby boomers could say the same, dropping 3 percent from last year’s results.
While it is difficult to measure exactly how strong the connection is between social media and the amount of products a consumer may purchase, social media can still act as a useful tool to drive sales. Similar to word-of-mouth, social media promotes brand awareness and provides a solid platform to better engage with shoppers.
The majority of consumers do choose to engage with brands via social media, which allows retailers to tie a social media presence to maintaining a brand identity. It is not just about promoting sales or pitching products, social media presents the opportunity for merchants to connect and resonate with consumers on an emotional level, which may help to establish a stronger brand loyalty.
Meeting consumers on the road to an omnichannel shopping experience can present many opportunities for retailers, but there are also challenges as well. Now more than ever, consumers are craving convenience, showing a strong preference toward frictionless payment and shopping experiences, Synchrony Financial reported. While this may cause operational difficulties for retailers, meeting these challenges can result in the chance to capture and maintain the attention of omnichannel shoppers, who tend to remain both engaged and profitable.
There are many tools and strategies available to meet the demands of these consumers, but first merchants must understand the expectations and needs this segment of shoppers have when it comes to mobile technology and the experiences they hope to gain from using it.
To access Synchrony Financial's Third Annual Mobile Shopper Study and learn more about how consumers are using mobile to enable their shopping experience, click the download button below...