Successful retailers today, regardless of size, are aware of or focused on providing an omni-channel experience for their customer base. An omni-channel experience is - in the most simplistic definition – delivering a seamless, yet consistent, consumer experience across any browsing or buying medium – in-store, online, tablet, or smartphone. For some retailers, this ‘ultimate experience’ even includes advertising (outdoor, print, online, direct mail, e-marketing, etc.) and social media, linking sales and marketing efforts even more closely.
Whether used for in-store showrooming, comparison-shopping pre- or post- store visit or researching prices online amongst various e-retailers, there’s no doubt that consumer reliance on ‘smart devices’ – tablets and smartphones - is at an all time high. Over 137.5 million Americans now have a smartphone and more than 52 million own a tablet. And, with mobile adoption continuing to rise across all segments of the population, ‘smart devices’ are evolving as an inherent part of the shopping experience.
As more and more consumers shift to mobile devices for at least a portion of their shopping experience, retailers must expand their core focus from in-store and online to accommodate smartphone and tablet based activities. A recent survey from Harris Interactive for TheFind found that 87 percent of tablet owners use their device to browse products (price comparisons, search, etc.) with over 70 percent confirming that they complete purchases via their tablet. But the experience is not always viewed as seamless with some 35 percent of users noting that the checkout experience is not always optimized for their device and another 49 percent reporting that they do not feel that apps and websites for tablets are designed for shopping. While consumers are using tablets the experience isn’t all that it could be – an important realization as more and more activity migrates to mobile.
Successful retail strategies today must include more than simply cross-pollinating the in-store and basic online experience. Tablets, smartphones, and mobile apps must factor into a comprehensive customer engagement strategy that takes into account any and every medium and delivers an optimized browsing and buying experience regardless of how the consumer is browsing or buying.