Smartphones Are No Longer the Enemy

The smartphone is getting smarter—or perhaps maybe just the users are becoming savvy.

Either way, mobile devices, which were once feared by most brick and mortar retailers, are quickly becoming an effective marketing tool to get shoppers into the store and keep them informed.

A few years ago, many retailers expressed frustration over mobile users using stores as ‘showrooms.’ For example, a customer could walk into an electronics store and look for an HDTV in person, decide on a product, and then pull out their mobile device to see if they could find it at a better price online.

According to a study by Deloitte, folks using mobile devices while they shop in physical stores go from browsing to buying at a 20 percent higher rate than other shoppers. The study, which surveyed thousands of shoppers, also found that one-third also spent more in the store because of their mobile interaction.

Earlier this year, at the International Council of Shopping Centers RECon professional-development session, industry experts stressed the importance of retailers’ ability to execute an effective social media marketing campaign designed for the mobile user.

Brian Lutz, director of mobile and digital strategies for CBL & Associates, cited the success of Nordstrom’s social media campaign as an example. Nordstrom gives its salespeople an app to track what is trending on Pinterest enabling them to create special Pinterest tags attached to items for sale. This allows them to track the number of views and shares the product got, giving them a real-time marketing strategy, Lutz said.
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According to Lutz, Nordstrom’s social media practices has helped the company grow revenues by more than 50 percent in the past five years. Lutz also pointed out that Pinterest recently replaced Facebook at the most effective social-media sales driver for CBL.

What might be surprising news for retailers, according to the Deloitte study, is that many shoppers are no longer using their mobile devices for price comparisons. Shoppers are becoming savvy – instead of comparing prices, they are reading product reviews, looking for inspiration on how to wear a certain clothing item, or even pulling up store map to find what they are looking for.

William Ward, director of education strategy for Hootsuite Media Inc. and a Syracuse University professor, said that if a retail company’s social media content doesn’t attempt to entertain, educate, persuade, and convert, it won’t get the job done. According to Ward, if your company isn’t sharing information that is useful and helpful, the shopper will find someone who is.

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