Mobile/Online Shopping Face Off

June 19, 2012 by  Filed under: Sales 

Shop online, or shop on your mobile? Are they really that different? Online shopping offers the convenience of shopping from the comfort of your own couch. Of course waiting a week or so for a package in the mail can be a bother.

Mobile shopping requires you to get out there and wait in line at the checkout counter, but you probably have a deal or exclusive offer waiting to be redeemed on your phone. Both methods offer a more active and interesting shopping experience rather than just walking up and down isles browsing, but are they at odds with each other, vying for the attention of today’s modern shopper?

If you’ve ever shopped online, you should be used to seeing promotional codes and online only offers. Buy online and get your items shipped to you allows for stores to save money on stocking and shipping costs. It also allows for smaller businesses with niche markets to reach a larger client base. Usually you are getting the promotional code from signing up to an affiliate site or through a special marketing offer. The tricky part about promotional codes is that people may search high and low for a chance to never pay full price. It can also cheapen your image if the customers you are attempting to reach are not the “coupon” using type.

Sites like Groupon and Livingsocial provide a blending of both worlds, where you purchase a coupon online, but then have to redeem in the store. This model works a bit like mobile shopping, providing digital coupons to drive in-store traffic, but the deals are time sensitive and have specific requirements to fulfill. Since these sites are not affiliated with any one specific brand, it also creates a rift between the brand and the consumer. The coupon site becomes the provider, and not the actual store they are purchasing the goods and services from. Most will only use the coupon for its intended purpose and spend nothing else in the store. They rarely become a repeat customer for the store, only for the coupon site.

Most mobile offers lead you to the store for your eventual purchase, offering redeemable coupons, QR code specials, and brand oriented contests. While you are not in the comfort of your own home, you do have the added experience of being in an “exclusive” club while shopping around. Using the interactive nature of QR codes to provide more information about a product or watching awesome videos engages the consumer and increases brand loyalty. Also, persuading consumers that are already in-store, and on the hunt for a good deal means they are in the best state of mind to purchase an item that has an offer on it.

Verdict? Perhaps. Mobile shopping definitely competes with online shopping when considering in-store items. With mobile web uses becoming more mainstream customers do not have to rely on their desktop computers to browse stores, and mobile offers instant in-store price comparisons. With added incentives associated with QR codes and contests, mobile shoppers are considered brand VIPs with access to exclusive deals. The only downside is being restricted to what products are located in your shopping areas. Online will always provide access to rare and discontinued items, and online-only sales mean just that. Online-only. There are ups and downs associated with both shopping models, but one thing is certain, mobile shoppers are gaining some serious traction.

Mobile Marketing Takeover?

Have you ever price checked an item in the store on your smartphone? Taken a picture of a QR code to see what may pop up? Got an alert on your phone letting you know about a deal at your favorite store? Mobile has become the new way brands are reaching out to their customers, and with 4.6 billion people owning phones, it’s no surprise that they are trying to tap into such an impulsive market. Yes. Impulsive. People who are on the go are much more likely to utilize a deal that they receive on their phones when they are out shopping than surfing the internet at home. Most consumers who shop online at home are looking for the lowest possible price, usually wanting something for free. Mobile is an entirely different story. When you are out shopping, spending money and hunting around for the perfect deal, you are going to be much more likely to buy an item with a sale or rebate attached to it than one that doesn’t. Now, imagine getting a coupon or rebate on your phone for an item that you were considering buying anyway. Makes it impossible to resist doesn’t it?

This is the future mobile marketing creates. By utilizing phone-only billing options (charging purchases to your phone bill, or with minutes) and offering deals and coupons that you can download on your phone to use in-store, our phones are becoming a powerful sales tool. No more wasting time cutting out coupons or saving mailers in the hope that you will use it a month later. No more waiting around for weeks for a rebate check in the mail. Interactive QR codes are also gaining popularity, giving consumers added incentive or information about a product, leading them to a purchase while they are in the store. Studies have shown that people who interact with an item are 80% more likely to purchase it than people who don’t. It’s no longer about picking up a product and interacting physically, now brands can entice people with digital interactivity.

Not only do phones make it easier to send deals and offer interactivity to consumers, they offer direct access as well. With so many people owning cell phones, sometimes their only phone, brands can market directly to consumers on a more personal level. Brand related applications, mobile-friendly websites, and location services are just a few of the marketing possibilities related to cell phones. That’s not to say that every time I use my Zippo lighter app I want to buy a new lighter, but if I need a lighter I will have them in the back of my mind when I do. Zippo has reached me on a subtle level without having to do any “real” marketing. By creating a cool and fun to use app they have staked a claim on my phone. Even if brand apps are simply location services or offer information on products, they have still given me the resources I need to make a purchase “if I want to.” By putting purchasing power in the hands of consumers, brands are making themselves available when the inevitable shopping event occurs.

The result? Phones are becoming the ultimate marketing tool. Smartphone owners use their phones for everything under the sun, and making quality apps, utilizing QR codes, or having a mobile-friendly website not only drives consumers to the store, it allows them to make an “informed” purchase. Knowing they are getting an exclusive deal or having an interactive experience with a product will almost certainly mean a sale. And why shouldn’t it? Shopping is meant to be fun. And brands that are willing to entertain and offer deals, making the extra effort to maximize my shopping experience, will gain a loyal follower for life.

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