When people shop, their smartphone is now their go-to advisor and assistant. For retailers, this means big opportunities to be there and be useful in shoppers’ micro-moments. This introduction to a five-part series reveals the mobile retail trends shaping the industry and why they matter.

If we took a snapshot of the shopping experience a decade ago, it would look something like this: When looking for ideas and inspiration, a shopper would either go online, browse a catalog, or walk the store aisles. When in-store, a shopper would learn more about a product and either head to the cashier or head home to buy online. The point is that a shopper interacted with channels independently. But the rise of mobile has changed this picture. What’s different today is that even though this behavior still happens, shoppers are omni-channel: Six in 10 internet users start shopping on one device but continue or finish on a different one,

1 and 82% of smartphone users say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store.

2 They get ideas, look up information, and make decisions, all from their smartphone anytime, anywhere. How consumer behavior on mobile is shaping retail industry trends

Consider this: Foot traffic in retail stores has declined by 57% in the past five years,

3 but the value of every visit has nearly tripled.

4 What’s happening? Mobile is driving local. People use their smartphones before heading in-store—to gather ideas, research products, and then search for local information. It’s no wonder that searches for “near me” have doubled in the past year.

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5 But research isn’t the only way mobile is changing the shopping experience. Shoppers buy on mobile, too. A person today might make a buying decision about a $15 tube of sunscreen, a $300 camera, or a $3,000 handbag on a smartphone while on her commute to work, as she walks the dog, or waits to pick up her son in the carpool line. Time on site for mobile users in the U.S. is down 5% year over year,

6 however retail’s share of online purchases is still growing. Thirty-four percent of online retail purchases now happen on mobile devices.

7 The bottom line: In this mobile-fueled shopping landscape, the retailers that thrive see the opportunity to be there and be useful for shoppers in what we call micro-moments—those intent-rich moments when people turn to their smartphones or other devices to know, go, do, or buy something.

The retail moments that matter

Shopping micro-moments often start when people have a need or desire to purchase a product and they begin thinking of ideas. This leads to research and eventually purchase. These moments tend to fall into one of three categories:

I-need-some-ideas moments happen when people have general awareness of the product category they’re interested in, such as living room furniture, but they haven’t yet narrowed down their choices to an exact product.Which-one’s-best moments—a.k.a. consideration moments—happen when people turn to their phones in short bursts of activity to compare prices, brands and specs, and read product reviews from trusted sources.I-want-to-buy-it moments happen when the research is done and it’s decision time. People make a choice about which brand or retailer to buy from, and whether to buy online or in-store.With these moments in mind, how can you ensure that you’re there for shoppers?

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