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Retailing in a mobile-first world – what do consumers expect?

Surabhi Ghosh Chatterjee | Sep 4, 2017 42 views No Comments

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Image source: Designed by Freepik

Image source: Designed by Freepik

There is no denying the fact that we live in a mobile-first world. By 2020, over 70 percent of the planet’s population will own a smartphone. Owing to the internet and smartphone penetration consumer’s buying habits are changing fast. Here is a peek into how the mobile revolution has sky-rocketed consumer’s expectation and what are its implications for retailers.

Consumers are omnipresent – what about retail brands?

The reign of in-store shopping is far from over, with brick and mortar stores still being the major contributors to global retail sales. However, online platforms are becoming consumer’s preferred medium for shopping fast.

Today’s shoppers are connected 24X7 across multiple devices and are omnipresent across all the retail platforms – online and offline. Their interaction with each of these platforms is also transforming, for instance:

– The savings oriented Millennials window shop for the products they like in-store, but ditch buying from the stores for better online offers.
– Online shoppers use more than one device throughout the buying cycle.
– Their usage of desktop and mobile differs by day and time – desktop shopping rises during work hours and mobile on the weekends.

Retailers can no longer rest until they have made sure that they are reaching out to the customers at every touch point. Having a delightful store and a fantastic online website is not enough, retaining these new-gen buyers will need a lot more prowess than that. Retailers will have to add value and engage with today’s ever connected customer at every touch point.

Consumers expect smartphones to make shopping experiences simpler – online and offline

Smartphones have made lives easier for users in every respect whether it is setting up reminders, making banking transactions, keeping track of fitness goals, etc. It is evident that they expect retailers to simplify their shopping experiences as well using this magic device.

Here is how few far-sighted retailers are catering to this demand of the modern shopper:

Walmart has deployed touch screens in their stores to make product searches easy,

J.C Penny allows customers to pay through Apple Pay across all its stores.

Lowe’s mobile app allows customers to search through the entire catalogue, purchase for in-store pickup, have items delivered or find a nearest Lowe’s store.

Retailers must look at innovative ways to simplify and provide an integrated experience across all channels, like:

– giving them options to pay through mobile wallets on both online and offline channels,
– giving them an opportunity to virtually try apparels through AR-based mobile apps,
– allowing them to add products to their cart while shopping in-store etc.

Offerings like these can make shopping experience delightful for shoppers.

Consumers expect mobile apps to double up as personal shopping assistants

Mobile users devote most of their mobile time on mobile apps. Studies suggest that mobile apps drive more engagement than mobile web. However, in an era where everything is instant, these shoppers are pretty impatient towards poorly functioning apps and websites and are quick to abandon the ones which are not user-friendly.

A recent study suggests that users’ have high expectations from their retail apps, they expect apps to provide:

– personalised product recommendations,
– discounts and offers
– update on new products and offers through push notifications
– price comparisons
– social sharing options etc.

For retailers, planning to invest in a mobile app developing a native app and keeping a note of the above points is a must. Additionally, offering innovative and personalised features in their app will ensure that it drives high engagement value.


Mobile revolution and ever-changing consumer behaviour together are opening up a myriad of opportunities for retailers to get up close and personal with their customers, delight them and retain them for longer. It’s time retailers take note of these and leverage this opportunity to the fullest.

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