This post is an expanded version of a column appearing in the December, 2011, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. The blog version includes extra information and media that don’t fit in a printed article.
The most important and impactful innovation to come down the lane, recently, for retailers has been the phenomenal growth of mobile. Smartphones and other connected devices that consumers can carry in their pocket have changed the shopping experience. For those of you keeping score at home, 38% of all Americans now own smartphones, according to current Nielsen stats, while a full 62% of those in the 25-34 age range do.
I’m sure most of you retailers have experienced customers in your store holding a product in one hand and an iPhone in the other. Perhaps you’ve even seen them scan the bar code on a product with the Red Laser app and effortlessly pull up a wealth of online information. While it’s tempting to get riled up over the thought of your customers comparing prices online, I hope you can come to terms with the fact that there are few mysteries in shopping anymore – and that you can influence what they find online.
As a consumer, I’m an information hound. I want to know anything and everything about a product before I drop my hard earned bike industry dollars on something. Price is important, but as a recent Nielsen survey of digitally connected consumers found, “good value for the money” (61%) beat out “low price” (58%) as the top reason for their choosing a particular place to shop. While you can’t discount (excuse the pun) the role of deals and other financial incentives as a driver of new business, it’s not the only thing consumers are interested in.
For IBDs this is good news since the experience at your store is about so much more than just price and you have the ability to affect the value proposition with service, education, and your passion for cycling. Just make sure that you communicate this value to your customers where they expect to find it: online. Look at your own – or better yet, your kids’ – shopping habits for examples of where you need to be with your message.
There are new ways to influence your local customers with “hyperlocal” advertising: Google recently announced that the distance between a person and an advertiser’s business location is now a factor in mobile search ads ranking. Think about it. That’s a really powerful new tool for your business to be able to direct your customers to your store.
At Interbike, we understand the power of face-to-face interaction, but the continuing growth and influence of online and mobile can’t be ignored. Social media and peer reviews online have influenced consumer behavior for years, but mobile puts that influence onto your showroom floor. You’re not done influencing your customer before he leaves his house anymore, and mobile can become an ally if you take steps to make it work for you.
Here’s a great recent infographic, also from our colleagues in the Nielsen family, on the mobile digital consumer to illustrate the current reach and influence of mobile.
I’d love hear how retailers are using these tools to grow their businesses.