Mobile phone use in-store by French consumers consists mainly of seeking opinions from friends and family and taking photos of products they are interested in.
Recent predictions of an increase in m-commerce of 90% or more in France by end 2015 ought to galvanise French brands and retailers to focus attention on how consumers are using their mobile devices these days, especially in bricks-and-mortar stores. The latest survey from market research company GfK therefore comes at a most opportune moment. The survey, which polled 25,000 mobile Internet users in 23 countries – including 1,300 in France – revealed that three main trends are emerging in the way consumers use their mobile devices in-store. Some 40% of consumers worldwide use their phones to compare prices from one store to another, the same percentage to call friends or family to ask advice and 36% to take a photo of an item they are thinking of purchasing.
The habit of comparing prices in-store is more widespread in emerging countries
When it comes to in-store use of mobiles, top of the list in France is calling friends or family for advice (32%), followed by taking photos of products (26%). Price comparison comes third, with 24% of those polled saying they use their phones for this purpose. In fact it is mainly the 15-19 and 20-29 age groups in France who use their smartphones this way. In the main, it is women who use their devices to call for advice or take photos, whereas men are more likely to be comparing prices online. Further down the list, 15% of respondents use their phones to scan bar/QR codes. The survey also revealed that to date only 10% of French consumers actually purchase items using an app.
Taking photos of products in in-store: a growing trend in France
Meanwhile in the United States many people have started to use point-of-sale mobile payment solutions, as witnessed by the popularity of the Starbucks app and Apple Pay, which launched last October. Market research specialist eMarketer predicts that mobile device-based sales in the US will reach $58 billion by 2017, compared with just $10 billion forecast for this year. And competition with Apple’s mobile payment solution is hotting up too. Google and Samsung both recently announced their own solutions – Android Pay and Samsung Pay – at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
What French shoppers do with their mobiles in-store
However, cultural differences from country to country remain, especially in terms of technology adoption and the GfK survey may well provide timely help to brands rethinking the in-store experience of their national customers. Argues Juliette Villeminot, Account Director at GfK Custom Research: ‟Given the significant number of connected shoppers in-store, points of sale do need to evolve”.
Digitising stores would seem a logical first step. Some brands have already followed the example of Adidas, with its interactive changing rooms. During the 2014 summer sales, French department store Galeries Lafayette rode the ‘mobile in-store’ wave in a big way, launching a geolocation app for its Paris flagship outlet to help customers find their way around the 70,000 m² of retail floor space. This offered shoppers the chance to have an itinerary planned for them to take in their favourite brands and also to share their own location inside the store, a practice that is significantly gaining ground nowadays. For retailers looking to get up close and personal with their customers as they are actually walking around the store, help is at hand with Beacon technology, which creates dialogue with users. Two initiatives are now making their mark in France: Bealder, based in Lyon in south-eastern France, is supplying French home appliances chain Darty with beacon systems; while Orange Beacon, a service by French multinational telecoms provider Orange, is equipping, among other clients, the Château de Versailles tourist attraction.