Mobile shopping is one of the most exciting new developments for retail in years, and "apps" that allow brick-and-mortar-store shoppers to check competing online prices have surged in popularity. While actual mobile-shopping purchase transactions accounted for only 2 percent of e-commerce sales in US in 2011, the Kellogg Shopper Index – a fall survey of 1,400 consumers – found that more than half of in-store shoppers report having occasionally used their mobile devices as a price-comparison tool while in stores.
That number is certain to grow. Yet the spread of mobile price shopping may end up doing more harm than good. For one thing, mobile shopping makes it far easier for parasitic retailers to "free ride" on real-world stores. It works like this: A potential customer goes to Best Buy to look for stereo headphones, tries on various models, and pumps a salesperson for details. Having settled on a product, the would-be customer checks prices online using a smart mobile device. The headphones are available for 40 percent less at an online retailer.
Best Buy isn’t the only one to lose out – the maker of the headphones does, too. High-touch retailers such as Best Buy are the proving ground for product innovations that many consumers crave. Ten years ago, how many people would have plunked down USD4,000 for an early high-definition television, solely on the basis of its description on Internet? Most consumers want a direct experience of the product that can be obtained only in a store.
(Source: Shanghai Daily )