From Brick To Click: How Mobile Devices are Changing The Retail Experience

Times are changing, but traditional brick and mortar retail stores are unsure how to change with them.

According to Zebra Technologies, over 80% of shoppers use their mobile devices as a key part of their shopping experience. Thus, as mobile and digital technology is changing how people find and make a purchase, retailers that don’t adapt to these radical implications could lose out on customers.

What consumers want, consumers will get – even if it’s somewhere else. So retailers that want to keep their customers must open their doors to these digital trends and start making mobile a part of their in-store strategy, starting with the changes customers want the most.

Pricing Consistency

Consumers want pricing consistency across all three sales channels – physical, online and mobile. A recent report by Accenture found that 80 percent of respondents expect the price of an item listed online or via mobile to match the price in-store. Last year, that number was only 69 percent, illustrating how quickly mobile devices are changing consumer sentiment.

However, the same report found that only one-third of the retailers analyzed had matching prices for more than 80 percent of the items assessed online and in-store.

In fact, of the 750 consumers surveyed in the report, 2/3 of them said the second biggest improvement they expect retailers to make is the integration of all three sales channels into a cohesive shopping experience.

In-Store Mobile Payments

What consumers want retailers to fix the most is the in-store shopping experience. And most of the solutions consumers expect doesn’t involve friendlier staff, wider aisles, or a better refund policy, but instead mobile devices.

This is particularly true for millennials. According to a survey of 1,000 US adults conducted by local shopping data aggregator Retale, 85 percent of respondents have used an in-store self-service kiosk to checkout.

Their top two reasons for doing so were:

  • “I have a limited number of items.” (72 percent)
  • “There was no line.” (55 percent)

Amongst millennials, the numbers were higher. Approximately 91 percent had used self-checkout kiosks, and 20 percent preferred doing so because they “don’t like interacting with cashiers.”

Regardless of the age group, almost half of the respondents wanted more self-service checkouts; 20 percent wanted the ability to pay with their smart device or wearable. And for millennials, 26 percent wanted to be able to pay using their mobile devices.

What does this tell retailers? That more and more people want to pay for their items at a self-service kiosk using their mobile devices rather than paying a traditional cashier.

The Mobile Showroom

Whether it’s to compare products, read reviews, or find better deals from retailers, the majority of in-store shoppers (58 percent) prefer finding information via their mobile devices rather than talking to employees, according to a survey conducted last December by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

In fact, the study finds that two-thirds of consumers trust the information they find from their mobile over product displays, sale descriptions and employee recommendations.

Known as “showrooming”, consumers use their mobile in-store to browse products, but purchase cheaper online. Some stores perceive this as a threat, feeling this technology will lower the number of in-store sales. But the majority of retailers are ready to change with the times, if they had some help and a good plan.

“There is such a massive gaping hole between all the wonders of e-commerce and what you find in stores – when I walk into a physical store, I feel like I’ve stepped into history,” says Richard Cohene, director of marketing at Beyond The Rack and one of Internet Retailer’s Top 10 Mobile Commerce Chiefs.

According to new research from UK bank Barclays, only three percent of retailers believe in their mobile-first strategy and 70 percent don’t even have a mobile website or an app for consumers. They understand mobile usage is growing in-store and consumers expect them not to fall behind.


Many retailers are unaware of what their shoppers want and the benefits of converging mobile devices into the in-store shopping experience. Not only can mobile devices reduce costs and improve the customer experience, they can also lead to more sales.

“The fact that many consumers use their mobile devices to check inventory availability while on their way to a store, and are looking for real-time promotions to be sent to their phones, means retailers have an opportunity to capitalize on the power of these devices,” says Dave Richards, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice.

For some retailers, these digital initiatives have increased their profits by 15 percent. Whether it’s because of the streamlined check-out process, omnichannel to purchase, targeted discounts, or simply convenience, consumers expect retail innovation and a more mobile-friendly approach.

Nova Communications works with Canadian retailers ready to make the changes their customers want. Current technology investment areas for retailers include: mobile POS, mobile devices for associates, wireless networking, inventory and warehouse management, fleet and delivery management.

If you want to learn how the mobile experience can keep your customers happy and help your store profit, contact us today.

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