Smartphones are the new personal shopper. They help consumers research, compare, and purchase products, not just online, but also in store. There’s even a name for these in-store mobile users – mobile reliants. Mobile reliants are those who’ve made a purchase on mobile, regularly use mobile when they visit a store and have three or more mobile apps on their phone. 77% of US shoppers consult their phones before purchasing in store, making a mobile strategy critical for retailers if they want to build customer loyalty and capture market share.

On-the-go consumers are using their smartphones in store in a variety of ways. Shoppers turn to their screens to research products, compare prices, download coupons, find promotions, access store maps, and shopping lists, check their loyalty program, and for a more seamless checkout. The most common use of smartphones while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores is to research products, with price checking and comparison coming in at a close second. Knowing this, retailers at the very least must be sure they are featuring adequate and accurate information both offline and online to meet shopper expectations.

One retailer who has been leading the way with its in-store mobile efforts is Sephora. The beauty company has built numerous features into its app that allows customers to make use of their smartphones as an in-store companion. From using augmented reality to test lipstick shades to experimenting with beacons, the beauty empire encourages its customers to scan products into the mobile app to receive product ratings, reviews, and other key information. The company has been especially focused on radio-frequency identification (RFID) and is currently exploring how it can be used in allowing in-store mobile checkout and offering an increasingly seamless way to access product information and shop. This commitment to embedding the mobile experience into every step of the customer journey – not just before and after, but during – has been a driving force behind Sephora’s continued success.

So what does all this mean for retailers? Like Sephora, more and more retailers recognize the need for an improved mobile experience. More than half of retailers say mobile initiatives were among their top three priorities in 2017, according to the National Retail Federation. As the path to purchase increasingly bounces between the physical and digital, retailers who fail to offer an integrated shopping experience — inclusive of a mobile strategy — could find themselves left behind in the dust.

With December only a few months away, retailers are already putting together their 2017 holiday strategies – and they would be wise to take note of mobile’s growing role in the shopper experience. Deloitte estimates digital interactions now influence $0.56 of every dollar spent in brick-and-mortar stores, which still account for more than 80% of sales during the holiday period. Next week, we’ll be discussing how retailers can integrate a mobile strategy into their holiday sales approach to boost revenue and further improve the customer experience. Stay tuned!


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