Retailers who don’t utilize smartphone apps are in danger of losing out on valuable business, according to a study conducted by ABI Research. Despite the growing strength of ecommerce and the importance of a business’s web presence, the study, conducted across America in December 2011, found that retailer-branded smartphones apps actually drove consumers into the brick and mortar retail locations and, once there, successfully encouraged consumers to spend more money.
If nothing else, the study is clearly evidence that both the use of mobile wallets and the use of smartphones as a mobile coupon and advertising delivery system are certainly on the rise. Of course it also speaks volumes to the mindset of the average American consumer, mindless drones seemingly enslaved by the commands of the ubiquitous mobile device, but enough of that.
Simply put, if you’re a retailer and what to drive up sales in this modern digital age, hire someone to design an app that advertises deals and suggests products your customers might like. Do that and your business will likely succeed, do it not, and you’ll likely be left wondering where all the customers have gone.
The study itself, conducted late in 2011 and covering a relatively minuscule survey demographic of 2000 people, asked the respondents a variety of questions related to their overall mobile device usage, including what sort of device they used and what they used it for.
The study found that of the 2000 respondents (of which 965 were smartphone users) who said they had downloaded a retailer-branded app, noted that “the app caused them to visit the store more (45.8%), buy more of the store/brand’s products and services (40.4%), tell a friend about their store shopping experience (35.8%), and encourage friends to visit the store (30.8%).”
While such results no doubt make the smartphone app seem like the magic bullet for retailers, the keen observer will note one glaring statistical omission in that data, the percentage of the 2000 respondents who actually had downloaded a retailer-branded app. It turns out that among the 2000 respondents; only roughly 25 percent of them said they had downloaded a smartphone retail app.
The survey conclusion notes that despite the fact that the positive responses among that 25 percent were still high, as the number of consumers who download apps goes up, it is expected that the positive feedback related to those apps will actually go down.
Further, the study also found that almost 40 percent of those who did download a retailer-branded app had also downloaded apps from that retailer’s closest competitor, meaning that downloading apps demonstrates little about consumer loyalty, but says lots about the ever-present desire to save money.
In the end, the results of the survey don’t really come as much of a surprise to me. In a marketplace that is increasingly becoming mobile it’s important for retailers to make the switch, to increase both their web and mobile presence to connect with potential consumers where they are. What I did find interesting, however, is the ability of a retailer’s mobile presence to actually drive foot traffic into a brick and mortar store, something I would have thought counter-intuitive with the exponential growth of ecommerce. So with that said, despite the statistical ambiguities of this study, if you’re looking to increase consumer awareness, look to increase your mobile presence first.