The dawn of mobile influence

When we all sat down for PriceCheck‘s presentation at the Online Retail Conference in Cape Town last week, online and brick-and-mortar retailers both expected a lecture on price comparison. We were wrong.
Andre de Wet (GM of PriceCheck) took us through a rather enlightening talk showing that physical retailers stores‘ walls are evaporating and with the mobile tools that consumers have nowadays, strategies need to change for a retailer to stay at the top.
De Wet stressed that “œmobile shopping is not necessarily mobile buying.“ In other words, while 50-60% of your customers will use their phones inside your store, it is for research and price comparisons and not to purchase goods. However, this research directly affects purchasing behaviour. And interestingly for the future, 14% of those on mobile click on the buy button anyway.

ROPO was a term used by both de Wet and Google at the conference, and stands for “œresearch online, purchase offline“. Naturally, this is what Google does ““ people check online at home and then go instore to buy what they want. But what PriceCheck now does is inside the stores themselves. Consumers reach for their mobile before buying a product, find the information they want and then decide.
Showrooming is a newer term for South Africa. It refers to physical shops being the showrooms for people to try things on after they‘ve already done all the research online. After trying a pair of shoes on in-store, consumers then go home and buy it cheaper online anyway. Some store have been know to charge you for not buying anything, purely for this reason. And showrooming is bolstered by the statistic that 45% shoppers leave for a 2,5% discount. Retailers will need to focus very carefully on pricing, and as Amanda Cromhout from Truth ( later presented, on their loyalty programs.
So de Wet summed it up well for retailers: What can you do for your customer that their mobile cannot? And while you‘re contemplating that statement, don‘t let your mind race to building an app. For most consumers out there, smartphones are a way off, and a mobi site is best. Build it well though, 50% of your visitors will leave in 10 seconds if your mobi site hasn‘t yet loaded.
PriceCheck has an app though, showing that it is mostly used by higher LSM users. It‘s also one of the few apps on almost every mobile OS platform: BlackBerry, iOS, Android, Samsung App Store and Windows Phone as well.
Shoppers, be alert, your mobile is soon to be your best tool for shopping. And retailers, please fill up your boardrooms with the right discussion: how to harness mobile to keep you at the top.