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Lemons to Lemonade: Mobile Shopping Competitive Price Comparing

December 17, 2010

Mobile commerce continues to redefine the shopping experience, increasingly changing the relationship between retailer and shopper.  For some retailers this change can feel like biting into a lemon, but for other retailers, who are embracing a mobile strategy, it’s more like drinking a glass of lemonade.

One major trend underway that’s causing change is the use of mobile devices for comparing prices on products to find the best deal possible.  According to a recent survey by Gartner (Mobile Consumer Shopping Preferences, 2010: US), comparing competitive prices before going into a physical store as well as while inside a physical store were one of the top 3 things mobile shoppers in the US intend to do.  In fact, it’s something I’ve intended to do, so I went ahead and tested it out while I was shopping for a Christmas gift for my daughter the other day. I created a video of the experience, which I’ve included below (don’t mind the user-generated quality).  As you’ll see, I tested out price checking on both the retailer native app and a price comparison mobile app by a third party vendor.

Power Shift

The ability to do competitive price checking on a mobile device is a power shift from the retailer to the shopper.Many retailers are fearful of phone-wielding shoppers since shoppers can now really find out if the retailer’s special offers are truly special or if the products are competitively priced. If they are not, shoppers may leave the store to get the product elsewhere, or not even go to the store to begin with (or go to the retailer’s traditional website to buy it online).  This is radically different from the past where the convenience of finding out instantly what the best deal was on a mobile device was not an option.  For retailers who don’t have a mobile strategy, this is a new sour (aka lemon) reality.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

This power shift is actually an opportunity for all retailers, especially those with a mobile strategy.  It’s an opportunity to turn turn lemons into lemonade and win more customers.  Some things retailers can do to win more customers with mobile competitive price checking include:

  • Work with vendors who create price comparison mobile apps to optimize the shopping experience for your brand. There are a number of vendors out there who offer competitive price comparison mobile apps.  Work with them (at least the ones that are experiencing large consumer adoption) to ensure that the mobile experience will help retain shoppers, even when you are not the lowest price. For instance, you could offer better deals on the product or related products once you know the shopper who is already in your store has done a comparison and you are not the least expensive. 
  • Make competitive price comparison part of your mobile website and mobile native app. Allow shoppers to be able to check not only your price, but the price of your competitors as part of your mobile experience. Yes, you will not always be the least expensive (or have the product in stock while a competitor does) and will lose some customers as a result, but the beneficial value you provide to the shopper’s experience will create a great amount of goodwill and loyalty to your brand, increasing the likelihood the shopper will shop with you in the future.  After all, mobile commerce is not only about driving transactions, but also about creating a richer in-store experience.
  • Modify your price-matching policies so that they include mobile price checking. Make sure it’s clear to shoppers, especially those who are in-store that your price-matching policy applies, including in mobile.    Train sales associates to convince shoppers (especially those using mobile devices) to purchase with you– being already there in the store often will be enough to convince them to do so.

What is your mobile strategy for competitive price comparing? Share your thoughts!

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