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What can retailers learn from consumers' online behaviors in shaping the in-store shopping experience?

Jane is walking through her local market when she passes by the hair products aisle and she remembers that she's running low on hair gel.  She wants to try a new, higher-end product, but making the selection is daunting, and she is not sure which product to buy.  She wants to do some quick comparison research before she spends 30 dollars on a product, so she takes out her phone to read relevant product reviews.  It takes a while to locate all the products, and reading the many reviews for the various products are overwhelming.  After five minutes of frustrated searches, she decides to settle with her generic option.

For the average shopper today, Jane's experience is likely to be a common one.   Indeed, a recent consumer survey found that the majority of people prefer to begin their journeys online, with 88% of shoppers webrooming--or looking at products online first, before purchasing in-store.  Such practices are not relegated to just high value purchases like electronics alone; modern day digital shoppers are increasingly price and value conscious, and they are used to easy access to reviews during their online shopping experiences, hence they tend to be less impulsive while purchasing, than ever before. 

It is the job of retailers then to meet consumers' increasing demands for external sources of information during their in-store shopping experiences.  To do so, retailers must focus on enhancing capabilities on mobile devices.  For example, to help shoppers like Jane, retailers can attach QR codes to products which allow consumers to easily access reviews for the product by simply scanning it with their phone.  On the same page, there can be reviews for related products as well. Also included must be tools to help Jane locate a product she indicates interest in. 

Repeated surveys indicate that despite the usual habit of starting shopping journeys online, consumers still overwhelmingly prefer to make actual purchases in-store.  Leveraging mobile content to supplement the traditional in-store experience, can create a simpler and faster journey that caters to the consumer's demands and save him/ her time. 

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