Mobile trends in retail

Consumers seeking simple, unique shopping experiences

For millions of consumers, a smartphone or tablet is more than just a communications or productivity tool – it's also a shopping companion. Understanding this dynamic between consumers and their mobile devices can help retailers create more compelling mobile shopping experiences – interactions that can deepen relationships with existing customers and earn new business.

But it isn't easy. One factor is that "mobile shopping" doesn't always translate to a consumer making a purchase directly from his or her mobile device – although research shows that's changing. Mobile usage trends indicate that today's consumers are more likely to use smartphones, tablets, and mobile shopping apps such as RedLaser and Milo to enhance all facets of the shopping experience – online and off – by gathering information about products, conducting price comparisons, "social shopping" with friends, and more.

Offering simplicity, generating immediacy

To deliver a more engaging retail experience for mobile consumers, retailers must keep the focus on simplicity. And just as in traditional e-commerce, ease of use and speed, especially at checkout, play a key role in a mobile consumer's decision to make a purchase. "Ease of use and simplicity are essential to a strong mobile experience," says senior manager of PayPal Mobile Solutions Stephen Strauss.

As Strauss explains, early mobile e-commerce sites simply replicated existing shopping sites, resizing them to fit smartphone screens. Some retailers also introduced apps that were overly complicated or tried to do too much. "Now, in 'Version 2.0' of their mobile site or app," says Strauss, "you're seeing better focus on the features that matter most to consumers." In addition, "Smart retailers are emphasizing simplicity and speed throughout the mobile shopping process – especially at checkout and payment."

In addition to creating a more user-friendly mobile experience, Strauss says many retailers are now using tactics such as scannable QR codes and "geomarketing" to further engage mobile buyers – whether from a mobile device or in a store: "The whole geo-aspect of mobile shopping is immense, and works especially well for the channel. Consumers who opt in to that kind of targeting can expect to receive very timely and localized offers from retailers – incentives, discounts, and so on – based on where they are and the time of day."

Delivering VIP treatment

Mobile puts a world of shopping literally in consumers' hands – to stand out, retailers must provide unique, customer-centric shopping experiences and deliver exemplary service. Explains CSA head of retail marketing and strategy for eBay Veronica Katz, apparel retailers – including high-end fashion retailers – are particularly well-positioned to deliver highly personalized shopping experiences to mobile consumers. "Mobile adds another dimension, a greater richness, to shopping for fashion," says Katz. "For example, video can give mobile shoppers a front seat at a fashion show featuring their favorite designers. And you can provide other detail that makes a purchase even more exciting – from the backstory on how a particular item was made to a closer look at the texture of a high-end fabric."

As consumers grow accustomed to a highly personalized, geotargeted, and immediate mobile shopping experience, Katz sees the e-commerce experience evolving. "Some stores will become showrooms that keep only a small amount of inventory. You'll scan a display item with your mobile device, see the assortment of sizes and colors available, and place your order for pickup or home delivery."

Making luxury even more luxe

Katz adds that mobile is just one part of the retail industry's movement toward a more customer-centric shopping experience on all fronts, including online and in-store: "Winning retailers embrace how customers want to shop now. They couple exceptional customer service with the latest innovations to create a great experience at every point of contact."

And luxury brands, which emphasize outstanding service, have an opportunity to exceed even their own customers' high expectations by embracing mobile technology trends. "Imagine passing by your favorite luxury retailer, which knows you're a fan of Chanel. The retailer sends a geotargeted alert to your phone, with news that a hot new collection just arrived. That prompts you to stop in the store – and when you arrive, your personal shopper is waiting with your sizes and colors," says Katz. "Mobile has the potential to elevate shopping for luxury goods to an entirely new level."

Want to know more? Contact your PayPal Account Executive or email us.