This month The Guardian revealed that online shopping on mobile devices had overtaken those from desktop computers for the first time. 52 per cent of us visit ecommerce websites on our smartphones and tablets, which accounted for 36 per cent of sales.
Just four years ago, only three per cent of shoppers visited retail websites from their smartphones or tablets. Such a huge jump signals a major shift in online shopping habits, which presents retailers with new opportunities.
We have written before about the practice of ‘showrooming’, when shoppers look at products in store and then purchase them online – and ‘reverse showrooming’, which is simply the opposite. Both of these may account for the change in consumers’ behaviour.
We believe from our own research that much of this is primarily to avoid queues. Frustration with self-service checkouts and improperly managed multiple lines all pile on the stress for in-store shoppers, and technology now allows them ways around that.
Most retailers have invested heavily in their e-commerce operations in order to take advantage of this change and to avoid being left behind. However, now they face the challenge of how to stay ahead in terms of their physical stores and to keep the high street alive. We believe this can be achieved, if addressed in the right way.
Online customers have become accustomed to a quicker shopping experience, and retailers should look to match this in their stores by increasing efficiencies. One way to do this is by incorporating virtual queuing. Using their smartphones or tablets, customers can book their place in a queue without having to physically stand in a line. As a result, customers’ shopping experience becomes streamlined and is less frustrating.
At Tensator, we are conducting our own survey into online retailing versus the in-store experience, and the extent to which people use mobile technology to shop. The results will tell us what it is about all aspects of shopping that consumers now value the most, and the role that technology plays within it.