Local Retailers Face New Threat

December 13, 2011


A recent ComScore study found that people are using their smartphones to purchase things even while their computers are in reach. Popular mobile purchases are not limited to items like music, ebooks, and movies but also include clothing and accessories - making things even tougher for brick-and-mortar retailers.

A new ComScore study on U.S. mobile retail usage, based on data from the ComScore Mobile Advisor report, found that 38 percent of smartphone owners have used their phone to make a purchase at least once in the course of owning their phone.

According to Cynthia Boris, a writer for Marketing Pilgrim, the study showed that 47 percent of all smartphone users in the U.S. use their mobile phones to buy music, apps and ebooks and 37 percent use their mobile phones to buy clothing and accessories.  ZDNet explains that 56 percent of smartphone owners said that they made mobile purchases while at home where a person is more likely to have access to a computer.  

These statistics are forcing online stores to provide mobile solutions. "Considering there are currently 90 million smartphone owners in the U.S., retailers without a well-developed mobile strategy are not only missing a tremendous opportunity with these customers but also risk becoming obsolete in the minds of these digital omnivores,” said Mark Donovan, ComScore senior vice president for mobile.

Amazon has tapped into this market by holding a promotion for mobile shoppers.  The online retail powerhouse has made it so that people can be sure they are getting the best price on their most desired products. On December 9, Amazon had a promotion enticing users with a $5 discount off any purchase if they used Amazon's Price Check app in a store.   

Chris Velazco, a writer for TechCrunch explains: "After placing a desired item into the app’s virtual basket, a 5 percent discount was applied to the product within 24 hours. Price Check app users can use the discount on up to three products …” This not only allowed Amazon to compete with in-store retailers, but it also gave consumers the impression that they were undoubtedly getting the best price on a product.

Fortunately for local retailers, the Amazon Price Check app day was limited to 24 hours. But the popularity of the promotion, and the underlying demographic trends that informed its success make it more likely for consumers to see these types of promotional efforts in the future.