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Apps Are Driving In-Store Sales (Really)

Mobile phones are no longer the enemy.

Not all that long ago, during the gloom-and-doom period of brick-and-mortar retail, mobile phones were tarred as a leading harbinger of the coming storefront apocalypse.

Terms like “showrooming” came into vogue, and pundits were certain that comparison shopping from the sales floor would hasten the demise of physical storefronts.

While there’s no doubt that Amazon and e-commerce had a culling effect on weaker retailers, those that adapted to the new digital reality are now stronger for the experience, developing new approaches like price matching that turned showrooming on its ear.

See: Webrooming Is The Road Most Traveled

Now, a recent study from Chicago-based Yes Marketing confirms that phones in general, and mobile apps in particular, have since become the store owner’s friend. Yes’ poll of over 1,000 consumers of all ages last June found that more than half (57 percent) are using mobile apps to enhance their in-store experience.

Specifically, 57 percent of respondents said they use apps in stores to find coupons, and 65 percent use apps to redeem those digital coupons in-store. Another 46 percent of those surveyed said they use apps in stores to locate sale items.

See: M-Commerce: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Conversely, despite the growth of m-commerce, only 33 percent of consumers prefer to make purchases on smartphones, the poll showed, suggesting to Yes Marketing president Jim Sturm that rather than fear smartphones, retailers should embrace them.

“Retailers need to prioritize the mobile experience,” he said. “Retailers can bridge the mobile-to-store experience by introducing apps that support in-store shopping with features like maps of store layouts and access to product ratings.”

See: The Top 25 Consumer Tech E-tailers

Mobile apps aside, the Yes study, “Surviving The Retail Apocalypse,” found other encouraging signs for terrestrial retail. Among them:

  • fully 90 percent of consumers make in-store purchases at least monthly;
  • 60 percent say they shop in stores because they want to see items in person;
  • nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said visually-appealing stores would motivate them to shop at a brick-and-mortar location;
  • 58 percent of “centennials,” defined as consumers ages 10 to 23, are more likely than any other age group to shop in stores for visually appealing displays, while millennials (ages 24 to 39) are most interested in store-based events (36 percent) and additional services (42 percent).

Related: Rethinking Experience Retail

The complete report, which outlines eight strategies to help merchants adapt to the changing retail landscape, is available at no charge from Yes.