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5 Ways Mobile Actually Drives Consumers to Stores

Online may be stealing a touch of brick-and-mortar’s thunder, but the e-commerce channel—mobile especially—plays a major role in getting shoppers into stores.

It’s not news that consumers are constantly connected to their smartphones, but mobile has reached new heights. According to Google, mobile shopping-related searches were up 120 percent in the last year.

And 82 percent of shoppers said they check their phones on purchases they’re about to make in stores.

“Shoppers now reach for their smartphones in every kind of micro-moment, from I-want-to-know to I-want-to-buy (and crucially, I-want-to-buy-again) moments,” Google said in its data insight platform Think with Google.

Naturally, these moments spell major opportunity for brands. That is, if they can figure out how to engage shoppers in these micro-moments.

“With mobile, marketers have the unique power to match marketing messages with signals of intent and context,” Google said. “What are they looking for? Where are they right now? What kind of person is shopping? With mobile, marketers know.”

Here are five ways consumers are using mobile to shop.

1. Smartphone shopping is the new “front door to the store”

That’s what Target now calls the portable shopping trend after learning that three-quarters of its guests started their shopping on mobile, and that one-third of guests who clicked on a mobile search ad headed into stores. Sprint also found that one in four customers clicking on its mobile search ads will come into stores.

2. Consumers are hungry for local information

Google said “near me” searches have grown 2.4 times year over year. Likewise, a 2015 Google Consumer Survey found that 50 percent of consumers doing a local search on their smartphone follow up with a store visit within a day and 18 percent of those visits end with a purchase.

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3. Ads that show local inventory drive shoppers to stores

One in four shoppers who skip out on going to stores point to not knowing whether an item is in stock as a reason.

According to Google, “If you’re an omnichannel retailer, showing shoppers the items you have in stock at nearby stores can be half the battle.” Sears Hometown and Outlet stores started using Local Inventory Ads, which show online searchers true store inventory and saw a 122 percent increase in store visits.

4. Smartphones are the new in-store research advisor

Shoppers rely on smartphones so heavily to inform their purchase decisions that apart from the 82 percent who refer to their phones first while in stores, nearly one in four shoppers said they have changed their minds while already in the checkout line because of details they found on the phone.

But providing consumers the information they want readily at hand can foster loyalty and likely curb fleeing from checkout lines.

“The beauty and body-care retailer Sephora has been a leader in treating in-store mobile behavior as a major opportunity: They encourage in-store customers to scan products into Sephora’s mobile app to receive product ratings, reviews and other key information,” Google noted.

5. Omnichannel shoppers spend more

Customers who shop both online and in stores with a certain retailer buy 250 percent more on average, according to MasterCard. Macy’s found that its omnichannel shoppers are eight times more valuable than single channel shoppers, Google said.

“Taken together, the numbers say that whether you’re a global brand or a local shop, mobile is changing your shoppers’ behavior in and out of the store. It’s essential to be there on mobile, yes,” Google said. “But it’s even more important to create rich and relevant experiences that connect your stores with shoppers in all of their micro-moments—and encourage those shoppers to come back again and again.”