Smartphones Erase the Line Between Online and Offline Purchasing for Omnichannel Retail


Have you ever gone to a store to make a purchase and then hopped on your smartphone while in the store to make sure you were getting the best deal? Have you ever found a better deal online from a different retailer and then changed your mind about your planned in-store purchase? This kind of behavior, known as showrooming, is happening more and more often with the rise of smartphones, tablets, and the popularity of ecommerce and online shopping. It plays a major role in omnichannel retailing.

To give you a better idea of what omnichannel retailing is I’ve included the Wikipedia definition below:

Omnichannel Retailing is the evolution of multi-channel retailing, but is concentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalogue and so on.

What does omnichannel retailing mean for marketers? It means that the line between online and offline purchasing has been erased, and marketing needs to reach your target audience everywhere they are looking. Since shoppers are making decisions about in-store purchases on their smartphones, it’s easy for shoppers to change their minds about where they will complete their purchase, causing retailers to lose sales to the competition. Consider these stats:

  • 88% of shoppers research online and purchase in-store
  • 73% browse products in stores before buying online
  • 32% of shoppers have changed their mind about a purchase after researching via mobile while in a store

(Sources: Accenture 2014, Tradedoubler 2014)

Since purchasing decisions are no longer made strictly in one place, it’s now vital for marketers to build a mobile-optimized marketing strategy concentrated on converting omnichannel shoppers.

Omnichannel Sales Means Mobile Marketing Optimization

Getting omnichannel shoppers to convert with your business means having a serious strategy for mobile optimization. This means your website, your display and search ad campaigns, email marketing, and more all need to be optimized for users on smartphone and tablet devices.

  • 60% of the time that Americans spend with online retail occurs on mobile devices (source: comScore, 2014)
  • Mobile shoppers convert 160% more often on sites optimized for smartphones (source: NetElixir, 2014)
  • Average order value from smartphones on mobile-optimized sites is 102% of the average order for desktop sites (source: NetElixir, 2014)

Consider this: people already in a physical store looking to make a purchase would prefer to get what they are looking for in that moment, rather than waiting to order online and have the product shipped to them. However, if this customer sees a better deal online from another retailer, they most likely will not pay more for the same product. There are ways to combat this kind of mobile showrooming:

  • Offer price matching to speed up the sale process and encourage in-store conversion
  • Offer promotions and incentives for making a purchase in-store (receive 10% off your next visit, free 2-year warranty, etc.)
  • Implement an iBeacon strategy to offer coupons or other incentives to buy for people currently shopping in your store
  • Run a display campaign with in-store purchase offers for the products your customers search most

Win More Sales With an Omnichannel Strategy Focused on Smartphone Users

Winning sales from omnichannel shopping means more than optimizing for mobile, it means making it easy for customers to make their purchase fast, or get in touch with you immediately if they have questions. Since these shoppers are often on their smartphones, making it easy for them to call is the easiest and most obvious form of fast customer service.

  • 61% believe it’s important that businesses give them a phone number to call
  • 33% would be less likely to use and refer brands that don’t
  • 52% of those that couldn’t speak to a real person say it has impacted their decision to buy

Making it easy to connect with your business via phone can be accomplished in a few different ways. For example, if someone searches for your store in Chicago and you have locations across the country, make sure the searcher sees your store location nearest to them and a phone number with a local area code. You can also use click-to-call links you make it easy for customers to call your business from their smartphone, while increasing your chances of closing the sale. A recent study by Google showed that people who make mobile searches are 39% more likely to call a business and 51% more likely to make a purchase. That means smartphone leads have immediacy in mind. When people are making purchasing decisions on their phone and have a question, they need an immediate answer. That’s why having phone numbers displayed prominently throughout the online checkout process is important – so people have immediate access to someone who can answer their questions, and help them complete their purchase.

To learn more about omnichannel retail and what it means for your business download the free on-demand webinar, Smartphones & Omnichannel Retail: 7 Tips to Optimize Sales in a Mobile World.