Study: Retailers not engaging mobile shoppers

NEW YORK — While 43% of smartphone owners have installed and used a retailer's app, only 14% of those who installed them say the app led to a purchase decision, according to the most recent Retrevo Pulse Study, an ongoing study of tech industry trends conducted for the consumer electronics shopping and review site.

"Retrevo's findings indicate that customers are willing to download and use retailer's mobile apps," said Manish Rathi, co-founder and VP marketing Retrevo.com. "But when only 14% of the installed base actually indicates it 'helped them buy something,' it's time for retailers to rethink their mobile engagement strategy. In today's market where many brick-and-mortar retailers are trying to stay competitive, retailers can't afford to merely serve as a showroom for Amazon."

The study found nearly two-thirds (66%) of respondents have looked at a product in a store and then made the purchase online from somewhere else. The number of "defectors" jumps to more than three quarters (78%) for smartphone owners who may have an easier time doing research wherever they happen to be.

Electronics was the category mentioned most, with 58% of shoppers checking out the (58%) this type product in the store and then buying it somewhere else online. The next category on this list is shoes (41%) followed by apparel (39%). According to Retrevo, retailers need to aggressively find a way to persuade smartphone owners to make their purchases in the store or at least buy from them online.

More than half the smartphone respondents in this study indicated they have used a mobile device in a store to help them buy something. Most of those used their phones to check prices and get coupons but many also looked up ratings and reviews on products they were considering buying before making the big decision.

According to Retrevo, smartphones don't have to be the enemy of retailers.

"Our message to retailers," Rathi said, "is: Get your app together! A carefully crafted app can help provide consumers the information they need to make them want to buy something."