Imagine a customer comes into your store accompanied by salespeople from all your competitors. She examines a product—let’s say a toaster—and the rival salespeople start pointing out they have the same model for less money, offer it in more colors, or will even put her initials on it for free. Your salesperson trying to help her is in danger of being drowned out by all that competing information.
Sound farfetched? Actually, this scenario is already playing out daily with the rise of smart phones—now 38 percent of all mobile phones, compared to 4 percent just four years ago—and mobile apps. Today that shopper can use a mobile app such as Red Laser or Amazon to do a quick price comparison while standing in your store. She simply takes a photo of the UPC, EAN or UPC-E barcode; Red Laser recognizes the item and then uses Google Product Search and Amazon to display search results for the best prices.
Since surveys show one-third of shoppers are comfortable using the scan functionality of their mobile phones, the end result is that shoppers often have more information or know more about products, prices and availability than your sales people do. In addition, a CISCO Internet Business Solutions Group Study published in January of this year found that 60 percent of shoppers rated online reviews more important than in-store employees and traditional media.
So how does a retailer deal with these empowered consumers?