Consumers Flex Their Mobile MuscleBy Samuel Greengard | Posted 2012-02-16 Print
Shoppers are turning to mobile apps for product information when making purchasing decisions, so retailers need to engage with app developers to make sure they've got the right information.
It’s hardly a secret that retailing is undergoing one of the
biggest transformations in its history. Mobile POS, analytics and the cloud are
fundamentally altering both online and in-store experiences. What’s not
apparent to many retailers, says GS1 U.S. President and CEO Bob Carpenter, is
how much power and sway today’s consumers have.
In the past, the power of comparison shopping was mostly
limited to the web, where companies such as Nextag, Bizrate, Shopzilla and
PriceGrabber compare everything from computers and cameras to shoes and
perfume. Now, thanks to barcode scanning and price comparison apps, this
capability is being pushed out to stores, where it has the power to thoroughly
disrupt traditional business models.
Carpenter notes that, in the past, retailers have relied on
their own loyalty card programs to communicate directly with consumers.
However, today’s consumer is increasingly
looking for price comparisons and go-to apps not related to specific retailers.
As a result, retailers must participate in third-party mobile apps to share
private-label information with consumers. Those that stand on the sidelines
risk losing mind share and market share.
However, success requires more than simply connecting with
various pricing apps. GS1 and CapGemini, which consult with many of the world’s
top retailers, say that there’s a critical need to ensure the accuracy of
product data that’s shared over the air. In a recent joint report, Beyond
the Label, the consulting firms found that between 30 percent and 40
percent of smartphone users rely on a barcode scanning app on their device. The
use of these apps has increased about 1,600 percent since 2010.
Unfortunately, 91 percent of mobile barcode scans returned
incorrect product descriptions; 75 percent returned no data at all 38 percent
of consumers would not purchase a product if they did not trust the production
information displayed about it on their smartphone.
Carpenter says that retailers must begin working with app
producers to boost accuracy and create consistent and streamlined tools. Solutions
that share digital product information with consumers must work in a global
environment; be highly scalable; provide real-time data, and be multi-sourced
to include all the data that consumers require to make a buying decision.
The end game, says Bob Fassett, vice president of North
America Consumer Goods, is direct promotion, as needed, based on consumers’
wishes and company inventory flow targets. “Today, the focus is on extending
individual transactions to mobile devices.” However, “Within 12 to 18 months,
mobile applications will integrate personal preferences, availability of
product at the local retailer or online, and provide promotional offers tied to
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