Mobile devices have the potential to give consumers a lot of in-store power. We can compare prices, check reviews, make sure we’re getting a good deal.
But that is the potential. The reality is something different.
A study by Michael Sciandra and Jeffrey Inman at Pitt suggest that hardly anyone actually uses their mobile device in this way. The study shows that few people use their phones while shopping – and of those who do, most use it for chatting with friends or family rather than any shopping-related task.
Most interestingly, those who use their phones to talk and text tend to forget up to 1/3 of the items they had planned to purchase when entering the store. And they also are more likely to make impulsive, unplanned purchases. In other words, for most of us, mobile devices are more of hindrance in-store than a help. If you use your phone in-store to compare prices you are in an extreme minority.
So what are the marketing implications for retailers?
(A condensed discussion of the findings appears here.)