Americans use smartphones before, during and after in-store visits

Toronto, Ontario, Canada -- A recent survey of more than 6,500 U.S. consumers found that Americans consult their social media apps before, during and after retail store visits.

The survey, conducted by customer experience management solution-provider Empathica, found that mobile and social customer experience strategies are becoming more important than ever for brands, with nearly three in four consumers using Facebook to make retail and restaurant decisions.

The findings also showed that 27% of smartphone owners consult reviews before making purchases, and another 55% use their mobile devices to check prices while shopping in-store. Other popular mobile actions include scanning a QR code (34%) and writing a review (9%).

“Today’s consumers routinely perform a variety of in-store activities on smartphones and mobile devices,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. “Whether it’s comparing prices or scanning a QR code for a discount, brands that ignore the use of mobile technology in customer and guest experiences will miss key opportunities to connect with a large pool of potential brand advocates.”

The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel also showed that consumers are relying on social media as an important tool in decision-making. Nearly three-quarters of consumers use Facebook to make retail or restaurant decisions, while half of consumers have tried a new brand due to a social media recommendation.

For retailers and restaurants that post all user-generated content online, negative reviews don’t necessarily dissuade consumers from trying a brand, especially if it has a generally positive online presence. Only 26% of consumers indicated that they would definitely avoid shopping at a store if they first read a negative online review.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • More than a third of survey respondents (37%) have visited a brand’s webpage using a mobile phone;
  • Although 55% of consumers are willing to “like” brands on Facebook, women (64%) tend to use the “like” button more than men (47%); and
  • Approximately 89% of people who have shared a positive experience with a brand via social media in the last three months also “liked” a brand on Facebook; only 36% of those who have not shared a positive experience with a brand via social media in the last three months “liked” a brand on Facebook.

Eighty-two percent of consumers are willing to engage retail and restaurant brands in online conversations if they believe it will improve future experiences, but only 62% believe that brands monitor online conversations and just 30% think that brands act on customer feedback.

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