January 10, 2011, 1:33 PM

Shoppers are going mobile

Stores that don’t support mobile shopping will lose favor with consumers, says Macys.com's CEO.

Lead Photo

To keep customers happy, wireless networks that support the use of in-store mobile shopping will soon become mandatory for retailers, Peter Sachse, chief marketing officer of Macy’s Inc. and the chairman and CEO of Macys.com, said today at the National Retail Federation annual convention and expo in New York. Macy's is No. 20 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Sachse made his comments during a general session entitled “Consumer 2020: What lies ahead for the retail industry.” The session’s moderator, Deloitte vice chair and U.S. retail leader Alison Paul, noted that some retailers oppose having in-store wireless to prevent shoppers from comparing prices with competing retailers.

But young consumers in particular are demanding the ability to use their mobile phones to comparison shop and get additional product information, Sachse said. Indeed, he added, the time will soon come when young consumers, notably the Millennial generation born in the late 20th century and the early 2000s, won’t walk into most stores if they don’t support the use of mobile shopping devices, Sachse said. “It’s a fait accompli,” he said.

Sachse didn’t provide details on what Macy’s may have planned for in-store wireless networks, or whether Wi-Fi or other forms of wireless networks would make the most sense. Wireless networks available to consumers can be especially important in large footprint stores, where a consumer’s smartphone may not be able to connect to a cellular network.

He also said that online social networks will continue to play a crucial role in how retailers engage with consumers, and that retailers can no longer just spit out information to consumers. “We’ve had several conversations with consumers that occurred only in a social network,” Sachse said. “Social media is going to explode.”

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