Last December, while visiting London, I visited Waterstones, a favorite bookstore with a number of nice memories. As usual, I found about a dozen books I wanted to buy — books I hadn’t known about before. But I didn’t have a lot of space in my luggage, and I also didn’t want to pay as much as retail prices in British Pounds run, so I did the next best thing. I broke out my iPhone, opened up my Amazon app, and bought either the print or Kindle editions of the books I wanted, or just “shopping cart”ed them.
Apparently, this behavior is becoming more commonplace, with bricks-and-mortar stores serving as stimulus palaces for shoppers, but actual purchasing shifting to cheaper venues — some online, some down the street.
The market research by Prosper Mobile Insights shows some startling data that feel all too true to life:
- 40.6% compared prices and purchased at another physical retailer using their smartphone
- 25.6% compared prices and purchased from another online retailer using their smartphone
- 13.3% compared prices and purchased from the same retailer’s Web site using their smartphone
- 35.8% read product reviews while shopping using their smartphone
- 29.7% scanned a QR code to get more information on a product while shopping
The numbers total more than 100% because people could admit to doing more than one thing over the past few months.
It’s long been predicted that smartphones would serve these purposes, but to see it coming to fruition feels like the difference between predicting a storm and living through a storm — the power of the environmental change is now palpable. Imagine the money flying out of a retailer over 3G each day. Imagine the disconnect between the shopper’s reality and the retailer’s store design. Imagine the opportunity presented for redesigning retail spaces to support these behaviors — QR codes to online review centers, instant price-matching opportunities (even to the company’s own Web site), and so forth.
It was a big change for scholarly publishers when modems, printers, and monitors became normal installed infrastructure for our customers. Suddenly, we could consider not printing some things, begin publishing information more rapidly, and integrating multimedia. Our entire business was transformed.
A new breed of infrastructure is being installed in the purses, on the belts, and in the pockets of our customers — and they’re using it heavily. What might that mean for us?
Whatever’s next, it feels big.