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Retailers Tapping Mobile to up Purchases

12 Nov, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – A new eMarketer report says smartphones are proving to be an effective tool to help advertisers introduce – or reintroduce – themselves to consumers and engage them and build a long-term relationship.

In the report, “Mobile Advertising in Retail: Tracking the Changing Purchase Path,” eMarketer says consumers usually shop in their favorite stores, whether they’re online or off, but they aren’t aware of alternatives, so the first challenge for retailers is awareness or discovery. Retailers have always advertised to announce themselves, but mobile adds a transformative element: location.

And even though location-based advertising is still young, analysts say it’s performing well for retailers. In a study earlier this year from xAd and Telmetrics, one-third of tablet owners and nearly one-quarter of smartphone owners are most likely to click on ads that were locally relevant to them.

For retailers using mobile, the “consideration” phase of the traditional funnel model is probably best expressed as engagement: consumers interacting with retailers. eMarketer says mobile’s big impact on engagement comes via retailers’ mobile apps and social media brand pages.

A Chief Marketer study unveiled in May says that, among marketers, the primary goal of mobile apps was building frequency of interactions and engagement with a brand. Some retailers use ads to introduce apps to prospective customers; others use ads to convince existing customers to deepen their relationship.

Analysts have found that the closer consumers get to a purchase, the more they use their phones – but only to a point. Smartphones are good as instant information sources, letting consumers evaluate the price, quality and availability of an item. Shoppers visit search engines, look at reviews and product information or ask their friends, but fewer actually buy items directly from phones. Advertisers have responded with ad dollars focusing on influencing shoppers at the research stage, particularly in search advertising, as opposed to the actual point of purchase.

In a June survey from JiWire, only 14 percent of shoppers preferred to research in-store, while the rest used laptops and mobile devices. And at the actual point of purchase, 45 percent preferred buying retail products in-store. Consumers, the report said, are using their devices to mostly research, not buy products.

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