May 262010
 

SMARTPHONE-A POWERFUL TOOL IN THE HANDS OF CONSUMERS

Smart Phones are being used by consumers to make better purchases decisions , and retailers can’t afford to ignore its power.  A Smartphone combines  the  information of the internet with the geographic knowledge of GPS to create a unique tool.   While shopping, consumers can now compare prices and identify good value in real time, and even find the best deal right around the corner in a store that they did not know existed.
Smart Phones in Retail

Get one - Use it like a Customer

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I saved $150 on Sunday (covering the cost of my Droid)  using my Smartphone in the purchase of a new washer and dryer. My wife and I started our search  at our local retailers. We wanted to make a decision right away. We learned about models and availability from the stores and sales people,  I used my Droid  to find other stores close by and had the same product, in stock at a much lower price.

So why should you care? In the old days before my Droid I would have purchased my washer and dryer at the second place we went to.   They would have the  product in a few days, but they were selling it slightly above the price I saw in Consumer Report. If I were a retail salesman who saw a customer openly tapping away on his Droid, I would have liked to know what information came up on that smartphone to drive the customer away. I am happy; I saved money and got the washer sooner, but that salesman was not so glad, he lost a sale!

The good news is that if you have been developing your local business web presence (As I have been suggesting), all that effort will be reflected in the information customers will find when they are surfing the internet on their smartphone. And when they are doing that research at a competitive store they may  leave your competitor and come to you.

Each year since 2008 has been touted as the “Year of Mobility” and it has not come, I am thinking that 2010 may finally be “THE YEAR” , but whether or not, it is definitely the year that retailers need to understand how 32% (65 Million) of cell phone customers are starting to use their Smart phones in the US.

Every retailer needs to get a smart phone and use it like a customer. Retail store owners need to be aware of what is showing up on potential customers’ iPhones, Blackberrys or Droids. Your competition is being channeled through smartphones. The worst part is when potential customers are routed to your competition right in front of you by these evil phones. On the other hand, if you see your customer bringing up information on their smart phone, and you know what they’re seeing  about your local competition , you have an opportunity to develop your strategy to sell against this situation.  This is another situation where a failure to understand the changing technology landscape can hurt your business, while knowledge of the technology can give you a leg up.

This is the first of a series of posts regarding the impact of Smartphones to the small business.  Stay tuned for discussions on:

  • How to shop with a Smartphone
  • What applications customers are using on Smart Phones
  • How to discover what Smartphones are providing about your products and services
  • Smartphones and restaurants
  • Using Foursquare and Gowalla for fun and profit
  • Strategies to take advantage of customers using smartphones

What is your experienced with customers with Smartphones? Have you been effective in dealing with the situation?

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