That consumers are increasingly demanding a mobile-friendly retail environment is nothing new, but a Jan. 18 report by Waterloo-based mobile software developer SOTI Inc. highlights just how much the industry has to gain by catering to smartphone users.

According to the study, 66 per cent of consumers are more likely to visit retailers that allow them to shop in-store using mobile technology, while 73 per cent believe that in-store mobile technology indicates better customer service, SOTI said in a release.

The good news for the industry is that smartphone-centric customers saw an increasing number of retailers catering to them, with 83 per cent more respondents reporting encounters with in-store mobile technology compared to last year, SOTI said, though 93 per cent said they would like to see more retailers taking advantage of in-store mobile technology.

If there is an overarching theme to SOTI’s study, it’s this: the number of users demanding mobile-friendly services from brick-and-mortar retailers is only going to grow, giving the industry a profitable opportunity that too few of its practitioners are seizing.

One example is the increasing demand for in-store mobile payments, with 45 per cent of respondents saying they would be more likely to shop at a store equipped with a mobile payment system, and seven out of 10 consumers saying they would prefer using a mobile payment system over a traditional checkout counter – an increase of 20 per cent over last year, according to the report.

In addition to improving customers’ in-store retail experience, SOTI noted that retailers can use location-aware beacon technology to deliver more customized messages to mobile consumers, with almost 40 per cent of respondents saying they had received targeted promotions or coupons in the past year and 85 per cent saying they would like to see more of them while visiting a store.

Meanwhile, instead of fighting the “showrooming” phenomenon, in which 90 per cent of consumers now use their smartphones to compare in-store prices with those online, retailers are better off accommodating it, the report said. Many consumers – 59 per cent – prefer browsing an in-store kiosk over speaking with a sales associate, SOTI discovered, while 41 per cent said that equipping sales associates with mobile devices made them more helpful.

Security remains a concern, with nine out of 10 shoppers saying they would stop visiting a retailer that suffered a security breach involving their payment or personal information, while more than half said they would pursue legal action if a retailer leaked their personal information. Another 62 per cent said they would publicly expose the issue on social media.

That said, 88 per cent of respondents assumed retailers already had security features in place, and more than 53 per cent said they would stop visiting a store if they learned those features weren’t up to code.

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