Meet the new mobile shopper: Smarter phones, savvier spenders
Mobile shopping is growing fast. Will it change the way you shop?
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New way to connect with customers
It’s not just consumers who are excited by mobile shopping. Cutting-edge merchants are finding they can interact with customers at a local level as never before.
Using the social-media platform Foursquare, for example, mobile shoppers can “check in” to local stores via smart phone in order to check out special discounts. By letting Foursquare’s mobile application know where you are, nearby restaurants, coffee shops, or other venues can offer special discounts, like free Fair-Trade chocolate every fifth check-in at Ten Thousand Villages in Austin, Texas.
While the technology is built to lure new customers, it can also strengthen bonds with existing ones. “If you can know in real time when your absolute loyal customers are checking in, how powerful is that?” asks Tristan Walker, vice president of business development at Foursquare. “That’s an opportunity for the venue owner to come out and say, ‘Thanks for coming, we appreciate you, and, oh, are you going to have the chicken again?’ ”
By accruing the most check-ins at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, Adam Dorsey picked up the Foursquare designation for a location’s most common patron: “mayor.” It took Mr. Dorsey a couple of visits to “work up the guts to show my iPhone screen to the employee, as it seemed like a ridiculous idea to tell someone that I’m ‘the mayor’ of their business,” he says. Now they honor him with a little bow and the title of “Your Excellency” – not to mention giving him free bags and boards for his comics.
He’s also the “mayor” of Golden Apple Comics, although the slight discount at Meltdown makes him a more regular patron there. “I hope to see more deals like this in the future, and although I could see it leading to cheating in Foursquare just to be the one to get deals, I think it will ultimately increase the enjoyment of Foursquare, get more people using it,” Dorsey writes in an e-mail. “More people means it’ll be a better user experience for me, with more tips, to-dos, and friends.”
Find it online, then buy it locally
Groups like NearbyNow are trying to bring the power of the wider Internet to mobile shopping. The premise of the NearbyNow mobile applications is simple: You pick the product you want and NearbyNow determines which local stores have it in stock.
Mobile shoppers are blowing away industry estimates for how fast commerce could migrate to mobile devices. How are you using your smartphone? Let us know on Twitter.