Pocket shopping: Will mobile devices drastically change retail industry?

Pocket shopping: Will mobile devices drastically change retail industry?

More than 1 billion people now own smartphones, and that means that mobile commerce has been thriving like never before. Smartphones accounted for 40 percent of mobile phones sold in Poland last year. With fast access to Internet and hundreds of mobile apps, creativity is the only limit for smartphone users. Value of e-grocery market in Poland is expected to reach PLN450m by 2014, with smartphones and tablets accounting for at least 30 percent of sales. In Great Britain, 20 percent of orders in e-stores are made via mobile devices. New mobile applications have the potential to disrupt the retail industry. Will smartphones revolutionize FMCG trade?


First to embrace the idea, a supermarket giant Tesco hung large format pictures of shelves stacked with the store's products in the Seoul's subway. Each product had a QR code tied to it. Once the code has been scanned with a smartphone, the product is automatically added to the client's virtual shopping cart. Citizens in Seoul could do shopping on their way home from work, with a guaranteed next day delivery. In Poland, the supermarket chain Piotr i Paweł launched a pilot programme of QR code shopping in their stores.


Online shopping lists are among most popular smartphones apps. Polish Listonic is one such application for shoppers. It has 350,000 registered users. Poles add a million of products to their online shopping lists each month, with 95 percent of items from FMCG category. Most frequently added goods include milk, eggs, bread, butter and toilet paper. Vegetables and fruit are most popular product categories, followed by dairy products. Large part of its appeal lies in its ability to display all running promotions (with current prices) for items on a shopping list. Another shopping application, Mobit GS1 is a mobile bar code scanner which gives users an access to multimedia presentations and detailed information on a given product. Its database contains 90,000 EAN bar codes, with 75,000 for FMCG. Shoppers can also use the application in a store in order to compare prices and find better deals. PoachIt founder Gidi Fisher created the app to resolve what he described as a broken search process — many of the coupon codes he found no longer worked. The free application also notifies users when items they search for online go on sale. Poshmark helps you thrift shop and sell anywhere. Users can list and purchase apparel with the app from anywhere with a mobile device. There are photo filters built into the application to help make items look professional. Shipping items is easy: the company provides pre-paid, pre-addressed labels for sending items and holds payments until customers receive merchandise. Decide compiles information like price points, reviews, articles, and similar products and assigns "score" rankings. With the app, shoppers can make sense of all the products available on the Internet and be happier with their purchases. It also tells users when prices are likely to go down. Etsy's app helps users make sense of the vast marketplace. It features 17 million items for sale. It also helps users sort for what they want based on a plethora of categories, and allows them to find friends who like similar items. Red Laser lets users scan loyalty cards for each store and keep them on their phone for easy access. You can also scan items at the store and find other places where they're available.


With the proliferation of e-commerce, there is growing evidence that online impulse purchase is an emerging phenomenon. Smartphone apps are designed to boost impulse buying. Pizza Hut is one of the best examples illustrating the power of such mobile shopping apps. Its American customers have placed online orders for pizzas via smartphones since 2009. The chain made a fast buck, generating extra revenue of USD3m in just three months after the application had been introduced. Great Britain's biggest e-grocery store Ocado generates 4,000 orders per day via a mobile channel, which accounts for GBP66m or 12 percent of the company's total annual revenue. Ocado saw improved sales just a year after the launch of a mobile channel. In Poland, Sky Cash pioneered mobile shopping, providing users with mobile public transport ticket vending machines. It has recently launched a new service-online purchase of cinema tickets via smartphones.

Sources: http://www.businessinsider.com; http://wiadomoscihandlowe.pl; http://www.o-m.pl
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonahowie/

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