Mobile is disrupting the shopper journey

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NEWS FLASH – consumers are engaging with retailers using mobile devices more than ever before and it means that competitors can now infiltrate each other’s once sacred in-store environment.

At the end of last year, I wrote that mobile and social retail would explode – two weeks into the year and I’m not wrong yet.

Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer, has started the year guns blazing on the mobile front. The supermarket launched its first television advertising campaign lauding the everyday use of its iPhone and mobile apps.

The app includes a barcode scanner, which allows users to scan any item, anywhere, and add it to their online Tesco shopping list.

It is the virtual equivalent of switched on shoppers being in a Tesco store 24/7, without the inconvenience of actually having to go there.

By running a nationwide TV campaign pushing its apps, Tesco is saying that smartphones are mainstream, once again showing up its competitors, who while they may have comparable apps, aren’t making them so accessible.

If Tesco is advertising its apps on telly, it means that they are no longer confined to the media hot spots in London, but housewives the length of the county have adopted the technology as an everyday thing.

An annual survey on mobile habits from research company ForeSee earlier this week revealed that 32% of consumers have accessed a retailer’s website from their mobile phone, and a further 32% said they planned to.

That means that retailers not getting to grips with mobile enabled sites or apps, are missing out on two thirds of potential customers.

A quarter of shoppers said that they accessed competitor retailer’s websites via their mobile while in physical stores which should be ringing alarm bells with high street retailers.

Now, even when retailers get shoppers into the store through alluring visual merchandising or brand building campaigns, they don’t have the full attention of the shopper.

I can be standing in John Lewis looking at the price of a product in Debenhams on my phone., and make my decision to purchase in Debenhams while in the rivals’ store. In theory, with Tesco’s barcode scanner app I can complete my Tesco shopping list, while walking around Sainsbury’s and there’s nothing either retailer can do about it.

The old shopper marketing adage that around 80% of purchase decisions are made in the “last four feet” of the shopper journey, starts to crumble.

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