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How mobiles have changed the way businesses interact with customers

How mobiles have changed the way businesses interact with customers

Mobile devices have altered the way consumers browse, shop and make payments. At almost every level, the interaction between businesses and customers is changing.


Mobile marketing is essential to this conversation as businesses adapt their strategies to reflect the modern mobile-first world. When we consider the way consumers use their phones to initiate web searches, check emails and social media, it’s clear that all angles of marketing need to be tied to the mobile channel.

Businesses are spending more on mobile ads. Figures from eMarketer show mobile ad spend hit the £2 billion mark in the UK last year. In China, the firm expects mobile ad spend to double in 2015, rising to account for 45 per cent of all digital marketing spending.

Businesses are utilising mobile ads to sell to customers, but equally they must respond to consumers.

Social media is also an element. Smartphone users can access social media accounts easily on-the-go to find reviews, comments and check what their friends are saying.

A recent infographic from 3Sixty Interactive paints the picture: 76 per cent use smartphones for social media, and 50 per cent of mobile users start their search process from their phones. In-store activity is just as important - 30 per cent access social media while they are in a shop; 31 per cent look up product information and 37 per cent seek advice from friends or family.

Mobile doesn’t change the way businesses and consumers interact online; it changes the very nature of customer behaviour from start to finish.

Shopping and payments

A key trend in the last two years has been the surge in mobile payments; and this is only going to continue in the coming decade.

Figures from Barclays suggest UK consumers will spend £53.6 billion a year using their smartphones and tablets by 2024 - more than five times the current level.

We are already seeing the shift from desktop to mobile, with 40 per cent of UK online retail sales now completed through mobile devices, according to the latest research from IMRG and Capgemini.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, notes how the smartphone has generally been regarded as a research tool for comparing prices and checking information.

“Yet the number of m-retail sales completed via these devices has risen from one in five to one in four in the space of a year, and we’ve seen mobile conversion rates rise significantly over the same period as UK shoppers now clearly feel confident in using their smartphones for completing purchases,” she adds.

Discounts, reviews and offers

The rise in mobile transactions does not deflect from this channel being an excellent way for consumers to find out information, best prices and top discounts.

One way that mobile has clearly influenced the business-consumer relationship is that consumers will now comparison-shop in store. According to new figures from the Federal Reserve on the use of mobile devices, 47 per cent of smartphone users have comparison shopped with their phone while at a retail store. Meanwhile, one-third have used their phone to scan a product’s barcode to find the best price for the item.

For businesses, this shift represents an opportunity that many are already trying to exploit. Because consumers are looking for offers on their phone there is plenty of scope for retailers to generate hyper-relevant offers based on searches and location.

Businesses are also noticing greater use of reviews. According to the Fed report, 42 per cent of smartphone users have browsed product reviews or sought product information while shopping at a retail store. The key for the retailer is that of those, four in five have changed the item they purchased based on this information.

Meanwhile, the use of digital coupons is on the up. According to eMarketer, mobile coupon users are making up a growing portion of the larger digital coupon audience as “consumers make in-home purchases via smartphone and tablet and as more shoppers use a mobile device to enhance their in-store experiences”.

It predicts the number of shoppers who redeem coupons via mobile device for either online or offline shopping to rise from 78.69 million to 104.11 million between 2014 and 2016.

From coupons, reviews and location-based offers, to social media management and payments, mobile has radically altered the way businesses interact with customers.

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