According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of Americans own a cellphone of some kind, with 77% of them owning smartphones. With numbers like these, it might be easy for brick-and-mortar retailers to assume that most consumers are using these devices in their stores, but that’s simply not true.
When asked if they were aware that they could use mobile devices to scan barcodes on items in a store and perform a variety of shopping tasks, 41% of the respondents in a consumer survey commissioned by Scandit said they did not know that was possible. In addition, only 45% of consumers said they are using their smartphones to shop in physical stores.
Considering these percentages and the digital features that are a part of e-commerce, it isn’t surprising that so many people are turning to online shopping. They either don’t know better about in-store mobile shopping options, or they don’t see the need or have an attractive reason to use their smartphone in a store. Clearly, brick-and-mortar retailers have some work to do to make customers aware of mobile shopping apps.
Even in 2018, many retailers do not enable in-store access to digital shopping features that are essential to creating a unified omnichannel shopping environment. Retailers can deliver access to these features by enabling consumers to use barcode scanning to unlock product information. They can create a mobile shopping app that allows barcode scanning, get a barcode scanning app that enables users to push data directly into a back-end software platform, or enable barcode scanning on a browser directly from an e-commerce website. Choosing the appropriate integration point for barcode scanning depends on a variety of factors, but in all cases, consumers can use smart devices in-store to access key digital shopping features.
You can leverage mobile device-based technology into vastly improved customer-facing, in-store, and back-of-the-house workflows and processes. For instance, your customers can use augmented reality feedback to scan an entire shelf of products with their smartphone camera and see individual items highlighted on the display that contain specific ingredients or features. They can also use barcode scanning and data capture to create shopping lists, research product details, read customer reviews, and take control of the checkout process through self-scanning.
Of course, there’s more to having a mobile shopping app than just creating it. Some retailers might think that you can create an app and the customer engagement will immediately grow off the charts, but that’s not always the case. You need to be prepared to promote the app on your website, mention it in customer marketing emails, and include it in advertising and social media campaigns. Customers coming to your store should see the app promoted on signage and hear about it from your sales associates. When they use it, they should get discounts and earn loyalty rewards that keep them coming back for more.
Smartphone usage is so high because of years of exposure, education, and support. It’s going to take a similar amount of effort for more consumers to become aware of in-store mobile shopping. How about getting started on doing what you can to raise more awareness?
Justin Corbell is Scandit’s VP of Sales and Business Development, Americas