Today’s busy consumers have many technological options available today, and the range of things the average smartphone can do definitely has an impact on the evolving relationship between your customers and your company. Does your customers’ growing reliance upon smartphones have implications for the success of your business? Understanding the complex ballet of the consumer and the smartphone in the marketplace is critical to your customer service and marketing strategies going forward.
Research vs Purchase
If a smartphone user is going to buy online using that mobile device, about 70 percent accomplish the actual sale at home. Concerns about data and identity security make most mobile phone use in stores a variant on shopping, not on buying. A recent survey of smartphone users revealed that about two thirds of this part of your customer base use smartphone options in a physical store location, and if they decide to move to purchase, they use traditional checkout methods.
Smartphone Use in Store
When you see a customer cruising the aisles with the phone clutched in hand, what is typically happening?
About two thirds are looking at and comparing prices and consulting with friends and family. The average smartphone user in your store is:
- Transmitting pictures for advice
- Looking at reviews
- Searching for coupon codes and price reductions
- Scanning bar codes for deals and further information
- Finding other stores that may carry the same item, perhaps in another color or style and at a different price
They are not actually looking at you or your sales force for answers. This is an important marketing issue which many companies are not really getting to grips with.
What Has Changed?
The information the customer seeks used to be obtained from your staff directly or over the phone.
Numerous opportunities to create brand or store loyalty have gone by the wayside as the smartphone puts what the customer thinks is needed in the palm of the hand. Instead of exploring options with your knowledgeable sales force, the consumer is educating him or herself.
Sign Of The Times
Is this disconnect from your business and staff a bad thing? Some might say this kind of information becoming more and more available to your customers is wholly good, others may say it’s completely wrongheaded, but as usual there needs to be moderation employed. If the information obtained means the ultimate sale occurs without a hitch, it’s a winning solution all around. But if the consumer is so glued to the screen that your willing staff are invisible, this may be the worst possible process if what is on that screen does not please your customer.
The customer may very well move on elsewhere without even considering a face to face inquiry that could resolve the issue or lead to a mutual understanding. Having everything in text on a smartphone eliminates your ability to make adjustments or offer items or deals. The phone becomes the assisting sales person, and your business fails to stand out – it is just one of the nameless places the consumer can pick up what has already been researched and chosen.
Food For Thought
Knowing that the cellphone may be your customers’ newest personal shopper will take some adjustment to work into your overall business plan. Do not ignore this issue, as smartphone use increases every day and its functions constantly evolve and improve. Take advantage of the tendency of smartphone users to post reviews and critiques online about your business, and use that information as fodder for change.
Think about what you can do to reach out to your base, even from the screen of a mobile device, and continue your journey into working and profiting from the latest technologies.