By Alexander Muse
Retailers by now are very familiar with Census data showing that Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing demographic in the United States and the studies showing that Hispanics’ buying power doubled over a decade. But there’s another trend retailers would do well to take note of in this era of showrooming.
Showrooming is the increasingly common practice of checking out items in stores and buying them online. Many use a mobile shopping application like ShopSavvy. It’s estimated that half of shoppers who buy a product online check it out first in a traditional store.
A recent study found that Hispanics are adopting new shopping technologies at a faster rate than Caucasians, with 16 percent of Hispanic shoppers using mobile devices to make purchases as compared to 10 percent of Caucasians. One in five Hispanic shoppers (20 percent versus 13 percent of Caucasian shoppers) uses his mobile device to compare prices on products.
“Mobile marketing to multicultural shoppers is a huge opportunity,” said Martin Ferro, senior account planner for Velocidad, a Hispanic promotional, retail and shopper marketing capability of The Integer Group.
And while many consumers clearly are driven by price, they are open to other information. That’s where mobile shopping apps come in, offering retailers and brands value by providing new and creative avenues to market to consumers. So, mobile shopping – and showrooming – should be embraced; and sooner rather than later.Leveraging new technologies and practices
Such a shift in thinking requires retailers to ask themselves three key questions:
- Why should I embrace mobile technology?
- How can I best compete with online retailers today and tomorrow?
- How can I leverage mobile technology to drive revenue?
Mobile technology is here to stay. Businesses that refuse to embrace it will be left at a competitive disadvantage. Remember that discussions about online vs. brick-and-mortar retailing don’t always have to be about price. What about the shopping experience? And don’t discount the fact that mobile shopping drives revenue by offering in-store marketing at the point of sale.
To educate retailers and brands and help show them a path forward, ShopSavvy has become a consistent, vocal educator and advocate of mobile shopping. More than two years ago, we launched the “Scan with ShopSavvy” initiative in cooperation with Ford, Gold’s Gym, Washington Metro and other brands, to educate consumers on scanning QR codes. Continuing that educational advocacy, the company is working to provide online retailers and brick-and-mortar retailers a forum for their viewpoints on critical retailing issues of the day such as showrooming and the impact of Amazon.com on local retail and local communities.Seeing showrooming as an opportunity
The Pew Internet and American Life Project tells us that during the most-recent holiday season, 52% of shoppers used their smartphones to perform research while standing in retail stores. Of those who used their phones for online price matching, 19% purchased the product online.
Fears about showrooming are very real among retailers. At a recent retail conference, panelists recommended various “solutions,” including:
- Offering products not found online
- Disconnecting Wi-Fi and blocking cell signals
- Banning the use of devices that can be used as bar code scanners.
Those suggestions make it obvious that retailers aren’t approaching this situation proactively. They need to see showrooming as a great way to grow their own businesses. It may sound obvious, but at any given moment more shoppers are in their competitors’ stores than in their own. Look at these figures:
- Best Buy has 1,099 out of 43,810 electronic retail locations
- Barnes & Noble has 691 out of 32,050 book store locations
- Macy’s has 805 out of 36,140 department store locations
- Safeway has 1,725 out of 253,572 grocery store locations
What if a retailer like Best Buy could start a conversation with the shoppers in the 42,000 locations they don’t own? Mobile technology can enable a retailer to start a conversation with a consumer at the point of purchase both inside and outside of their own retail store locations.
Retailers that leverage an omni-channel approach as well as mobile applications such as ShopSavvy can reach far more shoppers than they can with retail locations alone. The key is to start a conversation where consumers are, not where we wish they were.Alexander Muse is co-founder and CEO of ShopSavvy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 214-550-2003.