The Five Types of Mobile Shoppers And How To Win Them Over

Sales Enablement Tips: Identify and Motivate Shoppers to Earn Your In-Store Purchase

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Retailers are increasingly worried about the phenomenon of “showrooming.”

That’s where a customer arrives in the store equipped with a mobile phone and proceeds to touch, open, try on and look over a product, sometimes take a picture of it, and leave the store without buying only to order the item online.

This behavior varies by type of product, with electronics and appliances receiving the most attention from mobile shoppers using their phones, and food and beverages the least.

Clearly, showrooming is not a good thing for owners and staff of physical stores.

But not all mobile shoppers are created equal.

There are different motivations for people while shopping in terms of using their mobile phones. Here are just a few examples:

  • Customers who are merely comparing prices and often looking for bargains.
  • Customers who are trying to get ideas because they are in a hurry (e.g., men looking for gifts that have forgotten a special day at home).
  • Customers who are wanting to see the latest equipment for their favorite activity. This sector uses their mobile phones to check the specifications of a new model on the shelf.
The five types of mobile-assisted shoppers

The five types of mobile-assisted shoppers. Source

In fact, according to a recent report from Columbia Business School and Aimia, a customer-loyalty consulting firm, there are several different species of mobile shoppers.

The study, which surveyed 3,000 customers in Canada, the U.S., and the UK, found that 21 percent of shoppers use their mobile phones to make buying decisions.

The report identifies five distinct types of mobile shopper, and store staff members are encouraged to identify each of them before taking any action in terms of trying to complete a sale.

The five types are:

    1. The Exploiters – (6.1%) – They are motivated by lower prices, free shipping, online loyalty rewards, and online return policies.
    2. The Savvys – (12.6%) – They use their smartphones in-store to compare prices, check for product details and customer reviews.
    3. Price-Sensitives – (19.4%) – They are motivated by in-store deals.
    4. Experience-seekers – (31.7%) – These are young adult shoppers who love the experience of shopping. They only occasionally use their mobile phones to compare prices.
    5. Traditionalists – (30.2%) The shoppers are more influenced by the in-store experience than what is online.


There are lots more details in this 35-page report, which is available as a free download.

For each species of mobile shopper are identified, the authors provide a description so you can identify them, motivate them, and win them over so they make a purchase while in the store.

The report has many well-designed charts and graphs with valuable information for anyone trying to plan a training program for in-store retail staff.

There is also information on how mobile shoppers use a company’s website, how often they scan QR and UPC codes on products, the use of in-store loyalty programs, data on mobile payments, and detailed demographic information on the characteristics of each type of shopper.

This is a valuable report that all retail store owners should have in their possession.

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Gary Woodill is a senior analyst with Float, as well as CEO of i5 Research. Gary conducts research and market analyses, as well as assessments and forecasting for emerging technologies. Gary is the co-editor of "Mastering Mobile Learning," author of “The Mobile Learning Edge,” and the co-author of “Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds.” He also presents at conferences and is the author of numerous articles and research reports on emerging learning technologies. Gary holds a doctor of education degree from the University of Toronto.

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On July 8, 2014
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