By Melissa Michael
Chadwick Martin Bailey study showed that smartphones are now a significant aspect of the shopping experience - over 50% of today’s estimated 69.5 million smartphone users in the U.S. use their device while shopping. As consumers get more tech-savvy and reliant on their smartphones and mobile devices, retailers have had to develop increasingly more sophisticated digital systems and programs to keep up with the wave of the mobile shopping phenomenon. This holiday season is going to unveil some of the latest initiatives and developments in the mobile app shopping world from some leading retailers.
Wal-Mart recently announced one of its latest ideas – a superior iPhone app that enables users to add shopping list items by speaking, typing or scanning bar codes. It also provides the price, local store availability and, in select stores, aisle location of those items. Likewise, Apple unveiled new app features, one of which allows shoppers to purchase a product through the app and then proceed to picking it up at a store.
Another example of innovative social media and mobile advertising campaigns is Macy’s augmented reality campaign which has just launched, in time for the Holiday season. Previously Macy’s asked customers to mail their Make-A-Wish Foundation Santa letters. This year, consumers mailing their letters at Macy’s “Believe Stations” in-store can take photos with the campaign’s animated stars. Macy's Believe-o-Magic app was created and developed to run across mobile Web, tablet, Web and Facebook. Consumers can get instructions via the app which allows them to step into the frame and take a photo, which can also be uploaded into a holiday card template to share with friends and family via email or Facebook.
Retailers have realized that consumers are tapping into "turbo-charged technology," as Candace Corlett, president of consultancy WSL Strategic Retail explained it. “Shoppers want to compare prices, receive discount offers, buy products and even get in-store maps through their handheld devices”.
The data around people using their mobile devices and tablets for shopping activities is now well established. As a reminder, a study from comScore showed that 63% of tablet owners have made a purchase with their device and 31% of mobile owners have used their smartphones. This isn’t anything that new anymore. Many retailers know that consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets to make purchases and compare prices, what they do with that information now is the critical point.
To better serve the tech-savvy holiday shopper, 50% of leading retailers in the US have significantly invested in mobile-optimized websites, according to the NRF's Shop.org digital unit. One in five retailers have invested funds in creating tablet apps with innovative ideas such as the Wal-mart and Macy’s mobile innovation. The important thing to remember is that it is not just about creating any app – it must be a successful one. According to Dan Shust, head of innovation at digital marketing agency Resource Interactive, "a successful app has a great deal of utility or entertainment or some combination of the two.”
Cortlett has stated that retail strategy has become “a high-pressure game” and retail businesses need to get on board quickly with mobile advertising and app world innovations or risk being left behind in the wake of this tech-shopping boom.