Mobile Phone ‘Shoptimizers’ Rule the Selling Floor

on Monday, 15 October 2012. Posted in Research, Marketing to Millennials, Shopping and Spending

Smartphone-enabled shoppers are increasingly the norm. The most savvy tech-enabled shoppers, about 10% of all smartphone users, provide a beacon for understanding how we may all shop in the future. These 'Shoptimizers' are distinguished by their shopping behavior and attitudes, and can be found among all age and demographic groups, young and old, rich and poor, employed and unemployed.


Our research, conducted on behalf of Barkley and Sprint, shows that they walk the aisles comparing prices against online retailers and others, using multiple websites, apps and tools to help them find the best overall 'value.' Sometimes, that means the lowest price, but not always. As we found in our recent work with this empowered group, Shoptimizers trade off time vs. cost savings, and make a calculated purchase on everything from eyedrops to furniture to consumer electronics.  The are empowered by the information literally at their fingertips, and routinely ask for -- and get -- price matching on most items. (Click to download the full study report - required registration)


In light of these insights, Best Buy's recent decision to discontinue price matching during the Thanksgiving week, and to limit the retailers whose prices it will match the rest of the holiday got our attention. Clearly, the new policy is designed to fight 'showrooming' and is aimed at the right competitive set: Amazon is by far the #1 site Shoptimizers use most for all categories of merchandise. And our research found that consumer electronics is one of the categories most affected by the phenomenon. However, our research also revealed that Shoptimizers are actually willing to buy in-store even if the price is not the lowest available. Shoptimizers with kids are time - as well as budget-constrained. For higher ticket items these consumers they want to see or touch before buying, retailers may be able to charge a little by making the in-store experience, including the purchase and delivery experience, fast and easy. Shopkick and other shopping apps introduce a sense of excitement - stores can create their own fun by reinventing loyalty programs.


These days, the term 'price match' rolls off shoppers’ tongues more easily than 'hello.' It's fast becoming an expectation. Best Buy does feature its price match policy on its site, with a link to it in the footer on every page, but the many caveats and qualifications to the policy are bound to disappoint savvy shoppers. 


Best Buy's rewards points program, which requires members to login to a separate website and print out their rewards balance, is another source of frustration for Shoptimizers who have largely eliminated paper from their entire shopping experience. The expectation is that the information is attached to the customer name, and benefits are applied automatically at purchase. Shoptimizers also expect the stores they frequent will have digital coupons, not paper ones. As shopping with a smartphone in hand becomes more pervasive, retailers have to keep up.


Shoptimizers are a sizable minority today - but their day is coming!

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