JiWire, a mobile audience company that uses WiFi loading pages to connect advertisers with consumers, has released its Q1 “Mobile Audience Insights Report” this morning. The study, which monitors consumer usage of location-enabled mobile devices across the company’s network of 30,000 locations, takes a deep dive into the continued growth of in-store comparison shopping as well as usage trends for mobile payments and location-based services.
The big takeaway here is that the mobile device is set to play a large, and potentially disruptive, role in the brick-and-mortar shopping experience moving forward. The report found that 49% of JiWire’s audience who comparison shopped in-store said their primary motivation was to compare prices with another retailer. The findings build on a Pew study released in January, which found that a third of consumers used their phone specifically for online information while in a physical store.
“We saw this trend emerging last holiday season and it began to actually impact [retailers] business for the first time,” JiWire’s CEO David Staas told Street Fight in an interview. “By the time we get into the back-to-school and holiday seasons, retailers are really going to be impacted and need to know what their strategy is to address the issue.”
With only 5% of JiWire’s typically early-adopter audience reporting that they go to physical locations with the intention of buying elsewhere, the show-rooming effect, in which users search offline and buy online, remains relatively insignificant. Although it’s unclear which types of business are profiting the most traffic from in-store comparison-shopping, the still limited availability of online product inventory for smaller merchants would lead one to believe that big box and online retailers are reaping the lions share of the benefits.
However, as Michael Boland wrote in a column on Street Fight yesterday, eBay is in a prime position to level the playing field. The combination of RedLaser for comparison-shopping, Milo for product search, the PayPal Media Network (formerly WHERE) for customer acquisition and PayPal to transact payments, proves a deadly quartet in hyperlocal, and merchants could potentially use eBay’s system to acquire, sell and transact a consumer, all while he or she is in a competitor’s location.
“The big opportunity is for retailers to think not only about getting people into the store, but what the right types of messages are to send them while they are there,” said Dee Dee Paeseler, JiWire’s director of strategic marketing. “How they engage and interact with the people in store [will be] critical activating the consumer.”
Intuit appears to be gearing up to make a push in the hyperlocal marketing/engagement space as well, with the acquisition of Demandforce and AisleBuyer last month. The emergence of two established giants in Intuit (valued at $16.7 billion) and eBay (valued at over $50 billion) could potentially lead to consolidation in the hyperlocal market space, and the in-store engagement piece could prove to be a major point of differentiation for startups looking for an exit.
Steven Jacobs is an associate editor at Street Fight.