“Technology, especially mobile, is having an impact on the store,” says the CEO of InReality, which has released new research showing the growing importance of smartphones in commerce.

What’s the next step in the evolution of mobile commerce? Mobile in-store, leading mobile retail experts say.

“There is such a massive gaping hole between all the wonders of e-commerce and what you find in stores—when I walk into a physical store, I feel like I’ve stepped into history,” says Richard Cohene, director of marketing at Beyond The Rack and one of Internet Retailer’s Top 10 Mobile Commerce Chiefs. And many of his Top 10 colleagues agree. “You should have access to much more information, like how-to videos and product comparison tools. Beacons will play a role. You should be able to check out yourself in-store using a mobile app that contains a bar code scanner. The brick-and-click guys lag dramatically when it comes to creating true omnichannel commerce—chain retailers need to mobilize their omnichannel strategies so mobile truly becomes a part of the brick-and-mortar experience.”

As has generally been the case in the mobile realm, consumers are ahead of retailers in adopting and using mobile technologies. Today, 75% of store shoppers use their mobile devices while shopping in stores, according to a new report, “Reality of Retail,” from InReality, a retail marketing and strategy firm. What’s more, 25% of store shoppers who use their mobile devices in stores make a purchase on their mobile devices while in-store. Such purchases include a product that is out of stock, a product in a size currently unavailable in a specific store, or, to any retailers’ chagrin, the same or similar product from a competing retailer with a better price.

“We know the rapidly accelerating growth and adoption of technology is disrupting retail as shoppers are researching and buying online; and yet we also know that the overwhelming majority of retail dollars spent by shoppers is still within brick-and-mortar,” says Gary Lee, president and CEO of InReality. “Traditional in-store marketing is still critically important to shoppers, but technology, especially mobile, is having an impact on the store—changing the shopper’s path to purchase and calling for brands and retailers to start rethinking in-store strategies.”

The “Reality in Retail” report focuses on shopper behavior inside stores by surveying their use of mobile devices in-store, the effectiveness of loyalty programs and the effectiveness of traditional in-store marketing tactics along the shopper’s path to purchase. InReality in December 2014 surveyed 461 in-store shoppers across 11 retail categories, asking the shoppers to rank the importance and effectiveness of various touch-points along the path to purchase.


“Retailers now know their biggest challenge is how to merge the digital and physical selling worlds into one seamless customer experience,” says Nikki Baird, managing partner at research and consulting firm Retail Systems Research LLC. “The compelling opportunity for retailers is in blending the best of what the digital realm has to offer with the best that the physical realm delivers.”

The “Reality in Retail” report also finds that:

  • 53% of shoppers prefer to research products in-store.
  • 56% of shoppers still think advertising is important to their purchase decision in-store.
  • Only 12% of shoppers feel the in-store sales associate is an important touch-point in a purchase decision.
  • Only 46% of shoppers who use loyalty programs consider the programs to be important in their decision to purchase.
  • 71% of shoppers who use loyalty programs still use their mobile devices for price comparisons in-store.