How Smartphones Are Changing the Way Consumers Shop



Try to imagine what life would be like without your smartphone. Unless you are in the ever-shrinking minority of Americans who choose not to use one, you have come to rely on your iPhone or Android for talking, texting, traveling, banking, gaming, and buying products. Of all the changes that the ubiquitous cellphone has brought, perhaps the most rapid and exciting is in how consumers shop.

The upsurge of impulse.

In the past, a potential customer would see a written or televised advertisement for a product, and thus would start the contemplation process. Days, weeks, even months could go by before the person acted on their interest. The fact that people now carry their smartphones with them constantly can radically reduce the time between the initial desire for a product and actually buying it. That’s because businesses are quickly learning to use location-based alerts, timed discounts, and targeted emails to entice people to make purchasing decisions.

The ability to search for bargains.

Thanks to a wide selection of readily available iPhone and Android applications, customers can research the availability and lowest price for the product they want in a matter of seconds. Since it’s challenging to beat the deals offered by big box retailers, who can ship a product right to someone’s door within a couple days, brick-and-mortar merchants are coming up with creative ways to promote in-store purchases. The mobile phone, with its connection to social media, can be a terrific vehicle for forming brand loyalty.

Paying for products.

In addition to bargain-hunting apps, smartphones contain a built-in feature that more and more consumers are embracing: the digital wallet. In order to set it up, a person inputs their various credit cards and personal information into the app, where it is encrypted, password-protected, and saved. When the time comes to pay for a product or service, all the customer needs to do is to place their phone near a merchant’s near field communications card reader. The customer is prompted to provide verification of ID with their fingerprint or face, their information is checked for authenticity, and voila, a contactless payment is made. The entire process takes less time than it requires to dip a chip-enabled credit card, and every aspect of the transaction is encrypted. A receipt can even be emailed to the customer, saving additional time and paper.

Are you ready for contactless payments?

If you own a retail business and have not begun to take advantage of the many ways that smartphones can be used to maximize your profits, you are missing out. You may have already lost customers, and you cannot afford to let more slip through your fingers. Speak to your merchant account provider about upgrading your point of sale (POS) system to accept contactless payments. When you do, your checkout line will move more quickly, your staff will not be so rushed, and your bottom line might get just a little fatter.