The internet does a lot of valuable things like entertain us, connect us to others, and handle business transaction, but arguably, the most important thing it does is provide people with information. In the right hands, information allows business owners and consumers to make better informed decisions when considering business issues or making purchases. Mobile devices make this feature of the internet even more important because it puts access to that information near consumers at all times. Recent studies from UPS, Deloitte, Nielsen and more have shown that the mobile internet empowers business owners and consumers in a way that is beneficial to both.

For consumers, advances in mobile technology have meant better access to more information at the time of purchase, even when they are in a store. Business owners use a variety of tactics to convince people that they have the best prices in the area with price matching and other guarantees; mobile empowered customers can easily look on their own while they're shopping and eliminate the hassle of bringing in competitor ads or keeping receipts. It also makes it easier for customers to search for the exact item they want, such as a particular size or color.

The data has shown that consumers do use their mobile devices in these ways when they shop in store. An shopping study by UPS found that 41 percent of US online consumers use their smartphones to research products. Similarly, one in three (33%) US online consumers would use their mobile devices to access electronic shelf labels while shopping in stores, and 29 percent say the same for mobile checkout.

Nielsen also recently released a study that showed that there is a worldwide desire for more mobile options that empower in-store customers if business owners were to offer them. Two out of three (66%) worldwide online consumers are willing to log into in-store Wi-Fi to receive information or offers but on 12 percent have been able to do so. And though just 18 percent of worldwide online consumers use online or mobile coupons while shopping in stores, 65 percent are willing to use them.

Brick-and-mortar retailers benefit in multiple ways when they embrace internet and mobile marketing. As the data above showed, in-store shoppers have access to and use the mobile internet while they search in-stores. Though many business owners worry about such access costing them sales, a study from Deloitte reported that consumers who use digital devices while they shop in-store convert at a 20 percent higher rate than those who do not. The study also noted that 39 percent of shoppers who receive personalized coupons, promotions, or recommendations while shopping in-store spend more.

Mobile devices also give business owners new ways to provide better service. The Deloitte study found that 50 percent of consumers who received sales associate assistance on their last store trip would prefer to have been able to perform the same action themselves on their own devices. Better product descriptions online, scannable shelf tags, and comparison tools can make customers less dependent on the limited number of sale associate.

The UPS study cited above provides business owners with insights they can use to make their mobile offerings better. According to a comScore report on the study, 38 percent of US online consumers who have mobile devices but do not use them to make purchases say product images are not large or clear enough and 30 percent say it is hard to compare products. Ensuring that mobile devices have properly sized images is important for a mobile website and site owners should consider adding an easy-to-see and use "Compare" button on mobile ecommerce sites. It will help people shopping online and in-store pick the product they want.

According to Deloitte, internet-enabled mobile devices influenced nearly $1 trillion in 2014, so there is clearly a value to business owners who improve their in-store experience by empowering customers. Retailers who deftly leverage their in-store and internet shopping channels can greatly increase their revenue by serving customer at a time and place of their choosing.

For more information on how mobile technology is changing the world for certain business owners, read this article about mobile tech and the future traveling.

Published on: Jun 8, 2015
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