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Consumers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to search for information about stores and products they would have once visited a store for.
Research by marketing and data analysis firm Hitwise found 71% of customers are searching for information about retailer returns policies through mobile devices rather than asking a retail assistant.
More than 84% of customers are also using their mobile devices to search for online reviews of products they might buy.
Nigel Wilson, managing director at Hitwise, said this shift towards using mobile devices for research is an indication of the move towards a more omni-channel environment.
“Shoppers are using their mobile phone or tablet as a tool to search for more choice and find the best deal. However, retailers must ensure a seamless experience from online to offline to reflect the growing accessibility demanded by today’s consumers,” said Wilson.
The increase in internet shopping has led to an increase in omni-channel customer behaviour, whereby consumers interact with a retailer through whatever channel is most convenient for them, whether that be mobile, desktop or physical store.
More one-off purchases, such as gifts, are being made through mobile devices, and Hitwise found 88% of searches for engagement rings are made from smartphones.
However, customers may decide to purchase these products in stores as opposed to online. Many retailers are failing to create a joined up experience across all channels, which can push customers towards shopping with other retailers that provide a more customised and consistent experience.
Hitwise’s research also found 77% of customers are using their mobile devices to find alternative prices online for items they are thinking of purchasing.
Consumers are increasingly using their phones searching for sales and vouchers when in store, with 77% of searches for “sale” and 66% of searches for “voucher” originating on mobile devices.
Wilson explained retailers should ensure consumers have a consistent experience across these channels: “By giving products in-store and online the same price tag, the customer is more likely to feel satisfied with their purchase and less likely to buy from other retailers instead.”
Many shoppers would like to collect loyalty points from retailers through their mobile devices, and brands could use this as an opportunity to drive purchases in store.