The discussion around mobile usage in traditional bricks and mortar stores has certainly been around for a while, but recent data indicates that mobile usage is picking up momentum, and perhaps brings home to many retailers the importance of embracing the latest mobile technology.

Research produced by On Device shows that a staggering 60% of respondents have used mobile Internet whilst in stores, whilst 78% would use free wi-fi in stores if offered to them.

Whilst these are intriguing figures, they are almost meaningless without examining what this means for retailers, and how they can use this to their advantage. Consequently, it’s important to break this data down in order to establish how customers are using mobile Internet, which is perfectly demonstrated by this graph produced as part of a Toluna/Econsultancy survey:

Q4-chart-blog-full

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the key motivators for mobile usage is price comparison, which is undoubtedly a massive threat to traditional retailers; just look at the scores of mobile apps that allow you to compare in-store prices to online counterparts, such as amazon.

However, while stores will struggle to match online prices, they can can compete in other ways, adding value through product reviews, which are listed as a key motivation for mobile users.

Stores can encourage staff to write personalised reviews on their product offerings, and promote these within stores either on their site or through scanning QR codes. Having this personalisation can then mean that customers can talk directly with the reviewer when in store which helps to add authenticity and trust to a review.

However, price and reviews aren’t the only dimensions that bring value to the retailer and the mobile user. A great example of a store offering key benefits to mobile users is French supermarket Casino, which offers customers the chance to compile shopping lists on their mobile devices before visiting the store and then use their mobile to scan and pay for the items. It’s clever because it identifies a key incentive for the user – namely to save time in store, and also allows the retailer to gather personalised data about the consumer.

Retailers should also think carefully about the integration of mobile into their overall business; mobile users are still able to use other channels to communicate with the store, such as calling, e-mailing or speaking in person to sales advisors. So for this reason it is crucial that every employee is aware of their mobile offerings, as well as being able to respond in a swift and efficient manner.

Mobile doesn’t have to be a threat for traditional retailers, far from it in fact. However those that aren’t using mobile to their advantage could be missing huge opportunities when it comes to engaging with their customers.