American Marketer


Personalizing the retail experience via mobile

June 14, 2011

Andrew Paradise


By Andrew Paradise

As retailers begin to implement mobile technology to enhance the in-store experience, they should consider new ways to engage with consumers.

One of the biggest advantages of mobile technology is its ability to reach more people while still being able to personalize the shopping experience.

According to Lightspeed Research, 56 percent of people believe mobile can make the shopping experience more enjoyable.

By giving consumers product information and a more convenient way to shop, retailers can capitalize on this growing trend.

Product recommendations/targeted advertising

Stores can improve the in-store experience through product recommendations tailored to individuals based on their previous purchases, as well as items they have scanned and loyalty card data.

By using real-time data and individual transactions instead of collective consumer purchasing history, stores will have a comprehensive picture of each consumer and be able to more accurately forecast future purchases.

Stores will also be able to better compete with ecommerce giants such as Amazon and its Zappos subsidiary.

The advantage of using smartphones to make purchases is that the phones can mimic a knowledgeable sales clerk by recommending additional items to people as they shop.

For example, if someone visits a toy store and adds a train to her mobile shopping cart, the retailer can offer that person a discount if she buys train tracks at the same time.

Retailers can also remind people to buy batteries for a toy or accessories to complement a piece of clothing.

Consumers will be able to both create lists of items they plan to purchase and view lists of items that they might need to complete a project.

Examples of store-generated lists could include supplies for painting a house or planning a birthday party.

Personalized product recommendations will affect every retail sector, from grocers that will help consumers remember recipe ingredients to electronics stores that will ensure a shopper buys the correct cables for a new television set.

Product Information and reviews

By anticipating consumer needs, retailers will encourage people to stay in the store longer, buy more items and, most importantly, to return.

According to Briabe Media, an astounding 46 percent of consumers have used their phone to get product information while in a store.

Since consumers are already searching for this information, it is up to retailers to steer them away from using third-party shopping comparison apps by providing a superior store-branded app experience.

The advantage of people using store-branded apps to get product information and reviews is two-fold: shoppers will be less likely to abandon their carts and feel more confident about their purchases since they will have pertinent product information at their fingertips.

Increased customer satisfaction will result in repeat visits and stronger brand loyalty.

Combating ecommerce

Ecommerce is becoming not only a preferred way to make purchases, but also a threat to the traditional retailer ecosystem.

IDC Insights found that 30 percent of consumers ages 25-44 considered a retailer’s mobile competence a major factor when shopping.

This research indicates that customers trust retailers that have embraced mobile technology, which includes both mobile apps and mobile-optimized Web sites.

According to ABI Research, mobile commerce is expected to surge to $110 billion by 2015.

Retailers that do not invest in mobile technologies will lose billions of dollars in sales. Take a look at the Starbucks app, which has been used by 3 million people in just three months.

Mobile commerce is here to stay. The sooner that retailers realize this, the faster they can begin to profit from it while better catering to customer demand.

Andrew Paradise is CEO of AisleBuyer, Boston. Reach him at