Consumer Shopping Behavior Is Changing Retail For Your Small Business

Written by Nick Leffler | Comments Off on Consumer Shopping Behavior Is Changing Retail For Your Small Business | 5 min read

Consumer shopping behavior has been rapidly changing for some time and continue to change.

The change in how consumers shop is almost directly tied to smartphones permeating the consumer market.

Nearly everybody has a smartphone today.

According to survey results released in January 2017 by Pew Research Center, 77% of respondents own a smartphone.

That translates to more than 3/4 of U.S. adults!

Pew Research Center Technology Evolution, Adoption, Usage

That’s a lot of smartphone users who are changing the way retail works.

Any retail shop which has started up in the past 5 years knows how much that can affect how consumers shop.

How Smartphones Are Changing Retail

Smartphones have been at it for a while changing the landscape of retail.

It’s become evident the last few years just how much retail is changing. While same-store sales have been rapidly dropping, online sales have been increasing.

That means a lot of change for your small business whether you have an online store or physical location.

Consumer shopping behavior is changing precisely because smartphones are changing it.

When shopping, 82% of smartphone owners consult their smartphone for various reasons.¹

82% of consumers consult their phone when shopping.

The reasons they consult their smartphones varies as much as smartphones themselves.

Some of the reasons consumers use their smartphone are:

  • Price checking.
  • Find more product information.
  • Check product reviews.
  • Find a better product related to the one they’re looking at.

With consumers using smartphones for these things, local retail stores are merging with online stores.

When someone picks up their smartphone and does a price check, the internet and real life become blurred.

This blur is how smartphones are changing retail.

Embrace The Blur

The blur between shopping online and in store with a smartphone in hand is inevitable.

There are some ways you can embrace the blur though.

There’s really no other choice.

Teach Them

You can show customers different ways of using a product.

Selling exercise equipment? There are many different ways to use a lot of equipment and it’s your job as a retailer to add value for the customer.

If I were to buy a yoga ball then I’d want to know different ways I could use it. If you’re the expert selling it then you should have a great deal of knowledge about your products.

Share that knowledge. Add value to your products.

Show Details

If there’s one thing the internet is good at it’s providing more information about anything.

For a retail store both online and off you want to provide as much information about your products as possible (without overwhelming).

That means you should make info available but out of the way.

What about when you have a product sitting on a rack in a store? How do you provide more information beyond the product itself?

You can link the product in store to your online store where more information is available.

There are a lot of different ways to do it today such as QR codes or beacons technology.

Link your in-store experience with your eCommerce website to embrace how people shop. Share on X

Encourage shoppers to pull out their phone and do what they’re already going to do anyway.

The benefit here is that you’re going to keep them closer to your brand.

Sure they may venture out but the added value you’ve provided will help foster a new level of consumer loyalty.

Answer questions for your customers that they may have about your product.

  • Where does it come from?
  • Why’s it so special?
  • How can this solve my problem?
  • What are other ways of using it?

Every customer is looking at your product to solve a problem. Are you positioning your product to solve their problem?

Retail Declining?

Yes and no.

While in-store retail has been declining, online retail has been exploding.

There are exceptions to in-store retail declining though.

Much of the exception are in retail niches.

There's still room in retail for well-defined niches. Share on X

In fact, as many big box stores are getting pushed out of broader markets by Amazon and Wal-mart, they’re moving more into niche markets.

Understanding this shift is important for you to understand if you’re thinking about starting a retail store.

If you’re operating an eCommerce store then you’re either in a niche, moving towards a niche, or your time may be limited.

Given the challenges and changes of retail, small businesses need to look in a very specific direction.

Small Business Retail

There’s more to small businesses doing retail than simply embracing the blur between shopping and the smartphone.

Focusing on a niche is the best way for a small business to work in a shifting retail sector.

For a small business to survive in the retail space with such competition from big stores you must find your niche.

Consumer shopping behavior is moving more towards online but there is room for extreme niche’s where there’s a need.

Grow Offline & Online

If you’re a local small business retail shop and want to expand online, there’s room for a niche if there’s demand.

Meeting mobile users at their point of need will help your small business embrace consumer shopping behavior no matter how they’re shopping.

Having a powerful eCommerce store that’s tailored to mobile first is an essential way to give your customers a great online experience.

Not only that but you have to keep in mind that offering your customers security and peace of mind is essential.

With a fun and unique experience between your physical location and online store, you’ll have a winning combination.

Check out how we can help you put your small business online with an amazingly simple yet powerful eCommerce website.


¹ Google/Ipsos, Consumers in the Micro-Moment, U.S., n=5,398 based on internet users, Mar. 2015.

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