More mobile phones are making their way into brick and mortar stores to aid consumers in making decisions during their shopping experiences.
In fact, according to Empathica’s Consumer Insights Panel survey, at least half of consumers who own a smartphone use the device to look up product reviews while shopping in-stores, while the same is true for 10 percent of consumers who don’t even own a smartphone.
This data shows business owners that their mobile and social experience strategies are more important than ever, especially because consumers are using these channels to make decisions – even while inside retail stores and restaurants.
According to the survey results, price comparisons are the most frequent in-store mobile action with 55 percent of smartphone owners reporting that they have used their devices to check prices while shopping, while other popular mobile actions include scanning a QR code (34%) and writing a review (9%).
“Today’s consumers routinely perform a variety of in-store activities on smartphones and mobile devices,” says Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. “Whether it’s comparing prices or scanning a QR code for a discount, brands that ignore the use of mobile technology in customer and guest experiences will miss key opportunities to connect with a large pool of potential brand advocates.”
However, mobile isn't the only channel that is being leveraged for making purchasing decisions, because consumers are also relying on social media as an important decision-making tool. According to the study, almost three-quarters of consumers use Facebook to make retail or restaurant decisions, while half of consumers have tried a new brand due to a social media recommendation.
But this shouldn't deter retailers and restaurant owners from posting all user-generated content online in fear that consumers won’t forgive negative reviews, because the survey results show that negative reviews don’t necessarily discourage consumers from trying a brand – especially if the business has a generally positive online presence. In fact, only 26 percent of consumers claimed that they would avoid shopping at a store if they first read a negative online review.
“One of the key takeaways from our latest research is that brands need to proactively engage with their customers transparently through mobile and social channels – and even encourage negative reviews to be made public,” says Edwards. “The credibility brands gain from publishing all reviews far exceeds the amount of damage that can be inflicted by the occasional negative comment. Negative user reviews is not necessarily a brand destroyer.”
Additional data reveals further insights into the complex online relationships consumers have with retail and restaurant brands. For example, 82 percent of consumers are willing to engage retail and restaurant brands in online conversations if they believe it will improve future experiences, but only 62 percent believe that brands monitor online conversations and just 30 percent think that brands act on customer feedback.
“Clearly, if brands go through the trouble of asking for their customers’ opinions and feedback, it’s incumbent on retailers to make those results transparent. Publically disclosing that feedback shows brands’ efforts to go above and beyond their customers’ needs,” added Edwards.