July 14, 2011, 12:07 PM

Multiple mobile avenues drive consumers to purchases

Mobile e-mails, text messages and other marketing vehicles lead to multichannel sales.

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Mobile commerce is not just about selling products through an m-commerce web site or a mobile app. It’s also a multichannel tool that can help boost sales in other channels. A new survey of 1,427 U.S. consumers from e-mail and mobile messaging firm ExactTarget shows just that, as messages read on smartphones are driving shoppers to buy products through multiple sales channels.

56% of consumers with smartphones who purchased merchandise based on mobile messaging say reading a marketing e-mail on their mobile device led to at least one purchase, the survey says. 41% cite text messages, 35% say checking Facebook on their smartphone, 20% say checking Twitter on their smartphone, and 15% cite location-based services like Foursquare and Facebook Places.

Once they got the message, consumers traveled various paths to make purchases. 43% of smartphone owners who heard about products via mobile messages and made at least one purchase did so on a retailer’s e-commerce site using a desktop PC, the survey finds. 35% say they purchased a product in a store, 34% via an e-commerce or m-commerce site on their smartphone, 31% through a mobile app, and 18% through a retailer’s telephone contact center.

“The smartphone tipping point has arrived, and retailers must be more overt in selling convenience, service and other benefits in stores, especially if they aren’t the low-cost leader and want to avoid being Amazon’s showroom,” says Jeffrey K. Rohrs, vice president of marketing research and education at ExactTarget.

Rohrs says the smartphone shifts the balance of power to consumers because they can access comparative information and offers anywhere, including in stores.

“This may be a scenario where retailers can’t beat them so they join them,” he says, “arming their sales staff with smartphones and tablets to become roving digital experts who can sell convenience; capture opt-ins, fans and followers; and perhaps even provide counsel on branded app downloads.”

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