Retailers stay tuned for multi-channel consumers

Strategies to attract mobile, Internet users grow in importance

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — News flash: Retailers get the idea that attracting today's consumer means going multichannel.

(THE NEWS: Retailers plan to spend more on e-commerce this year. Click here for the story.)

Online retail has been around for a while now, but it's come along way since its beginnings during the days of the late-1990s dot-com bubble. Today, consumers aren't just ordering books from — they're ordering a plethora of items online, and not just from their desktop computers, but from their mobile phones as well.

So what does this mean for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers? It means they have to draw a consumer who may not have the time or patience to make a trip to the store, and try to reach them where they're spending more and more of their time: in chairs in front of a computer, or just about anywhere with their phones in front of their faces.

According to a study last month by ComScore, 86 million Americans are now shopping on their smartphones, with 4-out-of-5 smartphone users accessing retail content. And a Deloitte study found that using apps and mobile websites while shopping accounted for a 5% increase in retail sales over the past year, equal to $159 billion in in-store sales.

But retailers — including those in the drug channel — are moving in already. Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy launched a mobile app for patients to manage their prescriptions on Tuesday, while Stop & Shop, owned by Ahold, said on Oct. 19 that its new Wayland, Mass., store would include features for mobile shopping, not to mention sister company Peapod's "virtual grocery store" concept.


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