Analysts and savvy retailers have been charting the rise of ROBO shoppers (consumers who Research Online, Buy Offline) for a few years now. As the funnel disintegrates into a cloud of touch points, the effects of online research on offline buying are becoming impossible to ignore.
And ROBOs are evolving.
In-store no longer means offline (quick, somebody get me a new acronym!). Consumers are bringing online research into the aisles, empowered by smartphones and the liberation of once-siloed information. They’re also using their mobile devices during store visits to share shopping information with other consumers, and many of them are intrigued by the prospect of in-store mobile purchasing and rewards.
In-store browsing and comparison
No need to finish up that product research before heading to the store, says the ROBO. Half of smartphone owners (and 70% of iPhone owners) use the devices once they get there for price comparison, reading reviews and other online tasks. And many shoppers would rather use their phones to handle “simple tasks” than talk to an employee.
Why stay at home when you can hold something in one hand and use the other to scan it with RedLaser for price comparisons, or see what others like you have thought of it? Brands like Sephora have worked with us to develop apps that enrich the in-store experience by providing quick, direct access to the opinions of other customers.
Remember the days when you couldn’t wait to get back home to tell your friends about the shiny new thing you just bought? Seems like a distant memory now, especially in light of findings like this:
The study ‘Mobile Social Shoppers’ looked at thousands of online and social media discussions during Q1 2011 where consumers were discussing their shopping experiences and found that nearly 1 out of 4 comments were made while the consumer was within the physical store.
The bulk of these tweets, Facebook posts, and other social comments are made while shoppers browse, and they reference “staff interaction experience” over other shopping topics.
In-store mobile purchasing
Consumers are increasingly intrigued by the prospect of skipping the line and checking out from their phones from within stores. Fifty-six percent of younger consumers (18-34) are interested in using these mobile payment technologies, which makes sense given their social and smartphone adoption.
Google is reportedly testing its mobile payment system, powered by near field communication (NFC), and Starbucks has already implemented its 2-D bar code powered system in all 6,800 US locations.
One way to drive foot traffic to stores is to provide mobile rewards for in-store activities, as Neiman Marcus and AT&T have done through their work with the SCVNGR app. Best Buy is again ahead of the curve here, and has rolled out mobile “walk-in rewards”, powered by shopkick, to all of its US retail locations. Just by entering a store, shoppers get “Kicks,” which can be used as currency toward things like gift cards, partner product discounts, and exclusive offers.
Retailers: What are you doing to keep up with the changing nature of ROBO shopping?