Could smartphones save the High Street?

October 08, 2012 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
With the high street as we know it under threat of extinction, according to some forecasters, retailers need to fight back by incorporating mobile into the heart of their marketing strategies, says a new report by Tradedoubler, the performance marketing and technology firm.

The report, which is based on Tradedoubler's research among 2,000 smartphone users in Europe [i], shows that 38 per cent of people who research a product on their mobile phone will then go into a shop to buy it. 47 per cent go on to complete their purchase on a PC, 25 per cent on their mobile and 7 per cent on a tablet. The Tradedoubler white paper is available for download at www.tradedoubler.com/shopping-on-mobile.

The report reveals that smartphone use while in-store could also mean lost business for retailers that lack an effective mobile customer engagement strategy. The 'showrooming' phenomenon is where shoppers first visit stores to look at products, but then turn to their mobile phones in order to find the best price, completing the purchase online with a competitor. This behaviour was revealed in the survey when 42 per cent of those who said they had used their mobiles in a shop revealed they had used it to track down a better deal elsewhere.

"Much has been written about mobile representing a potential nightmare scenario for high street retailers," said Dan Cohen, Market Unit Leader, Tradedoubler, "but our study shows that the opposite can be true as long as retailers are prepared to harness the potential of mobile, and not be afraid of closing a sale through different channels. We're finding that mobile search can be a tremendous catalyst to driving consumers onto the high street."

The report recommends that retailers looking to take advantage of mobile should adopt a seamless approach across online and off-line channels, reinforced by special daily deals, voucher codes, mobile-optimised websites and tracked affiliate programmes.

The study found that many shoppers would welcome such additional functionality, with 35 per cent saying they want to use vouchers and 56 per cent welcoming location-based offers, although currently only 16 per cent of users receive them.

"The world of retail is changing," added Cohen. "Technology