Mobile Shopping: Customers Say ‘Do Not Track Me!’

mobile shoppingMobile shopping is here, but despite the potential benefits a recent survey by Retale shows that adoption of the technology by consumers is slow. Shoppers either do not know about the capability, or do not want to use it. 71 percent of mobile users do not want to be tracked into stores through their smartphones, and 56 percent say they do not want to receive push notifications letting them know about sales or other information while they are in the store.

Retale is a location-based mobile app and website that compiles weekly circulars from top retailers across the U.S. It is available on web, tablet, mobile, and a downloadable app usable on any device. The Retale survey asked 3,000 iOS and Android users about their mobile shopping experiences, usage, and awareness. The technology includes such features as iBeacon, visit tracking, in-store push notifications, Wallet, Passbook, and near field communications (NFC). Survey results showed a near complete disconnect between consumers and mobile shopping capability.

Patrice Demody, Retale president, says retailers wanting to maximize traffic and sales need to understand consumer desires and motives so they can improve the shopping experience. That could mean helping shoppers better understand the benefits of mobile shopping technology.

This is the Apple Bluetooth system that tracks iOS devices such as iPad or iPhone. Marketer’s apps can send notifications to shoppers of nearby items that are on sale, or items that they may be looking for as determined by where they are in the store. For instance, someone in the shoe section might also need socks. iBeacon also enables point of sale payments without the customer needing their wallet or credit card. 75 percent of mobile users are unaware that it exists. Only 44 percent said they wanted retailers to send them notifications while they shop.

Visit Tracking
Retailers can use smartphone location data to track customers into stores. Theoretically this allows companies to know if online ad exposure leads to store visits. This feature has a huge potential for companies to connect consumers’ online behavior with offline activities by using their smartphones. The problem with the idea is that 71 percent of mobile users say they do not want to be followed into a store. Customers do not want retailers tracking their store visits using the mobile shopping apps on their smartphones.

In-Store Push Notifications
iOS users are about an even split for whether they want in-store notifications of information such as sales. Android users were even more reluctant, with about 62 percent saying they do not want or need them.

Google Wallet is a mobile payment option for Android users that 81 percent are aware of, but only 11 percent use.

Passbook functions like Google Wallet for iOS users, holding coupons, travel and event tickets, vouchers, and gift cards. While 84 percent are familiar with Passbook, only 23 percent say they have used it.

Near Field Communications
Over half of survey respondents have never heard of NFC, which is a contactless payment system used for mobile payments. Only 5 to 6 percent use it regularly for retail purchases.

Clearly there are many more options for mobile shopping than reluctant consumers are taking advantage of. The Retale website says that, as with any new technology, it takes time for consumers to catch up. Their survey shows that as long as customers continue to say “Do not track me!” adoption of mobile shopping functionality may be even slower than previously thought.

By Beth A. Balen

Market Watch