Smartphones Are Changing the Way We Shop

One of the biggest challenges that retailers face once they get consumers into their stores is finding ways to get customers to see the products that they have for sale.

For this reason, many store owners go to great lengths to make sure that the design and layout of their store is optimized for the way that consumers shop and that the merchandise is properly displayed.

However, even with the use of endcaps and optimized sightlines, the fact that humans need to look ahead when they walk through a store makes it difficult for some products to get noticed.

In his book, “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping—Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond,” (affiliate link) Paco Underhill mentioned a study that he did to see how much of what is on display at supermarkets is actually seen by customers–the so-called capture rate.

According to Underhill, “About one fifth of all shoppers actually see the average product on a supermarket shelf.”

Smartphones Can Help Consumers Find Products

Mobile phones have given consumers the ability to research and purchase products from their mobile phones.

Smart retailers have taken note and are making an effort to make sure that their store is front and center when these consumers use their mobile phones to search for product information.

But, the power of mobile phones doesn’t need to end there.

Many retailers are partnering with apps like shopkick not only to get consumers into their stores, but also to interact with specific products.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future some major retailer partners with a tech startup to use the sound technology similar to what shopkick uses for walk-in rewards to notify consumers about product specials or discounts as they walk down the grocery store aisle. This would help solve some of the issues that I talked about earlier. (However, I would hope that this technology would be opt-in and used very sparingly, as it could get annoying really fast.)

Other technologies that retailers could use to let consumers know about specific products or services include geofencing, near field communications (NFC), RFID, QR codes, augmented reality, and location-based apps similar to Foursquare.

Furthermore, as Ivy Chang pointed out in a blog post last year, retailers can bring their stores to the consumer by using technology to create remote store-fronts at subway stations (or any other location for that matter) that allow people to scan QR codes with their smartphones and have the products delivered right to their homes.

Final Thoughts

Technology is constantly changing the way that we live our lives.

Smartphones are one example of this, as they are giving retailers additional ways to connect their customers to the products and services that they have for sale.

While store design and merchandising are always going to be important factors in increasing sales, smartphones are going to play an increasing role in helping make consumers aware of discounts or specials and connecting them with additional product information that will help them make purchase decisions.

With this in mind, retailers and the brands that make the products and services that they sell need to be forward thinking and find ways to use smartphones to connect with customers before the competition does.

Photo credit: jeremydeades on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Chad Thiele

I am a marketing analyst and strategist. I earned my master's degree from West Virginia University in Integrated Marketing Communications in 2023. I also hold a bachelor's degree from UW-Madison in Sociology with a Concentration in Analysis and Research, and I completed the Mobile Marketing Professional Certificate Program from Auburn University in 2015.