Retailers should be optimising the in-store environment for today’s mobile user and leveraging data to improve the experience, says customer journey management expert.

The new Amazon patent, which has been designed to intercept customers who attempt to make a price comparison on their mobile devices while in-store, could be detrimental to retailers and will ultimately increase friction levels. This is according to Qmatic UK Ltd, which leads the market in customer journey management technology solutions.

The Amazon patent works by stopping customers from visiting a price comparison website or a competitor’s website while using the shop’s WiFi. However, Qmatic’s latest research, which surveyed 2,000 consumers, highlights how this will restrict the way consumers like to shop today. The research revealed that 80 per cent of consumers like to look online before committing to a purchase and 42 per cent of consumers are likely to use their phone for non-voice activity while in a retail store - this could involve texting a friend to get an opinion on an item or checking a price comparison website.

Vanessa Walmsley, Managing Director at Qmatic UK, suggests that Amazon’s new patent, if implemented by retailers, could leave customers frustrated. Instead retailers need to consider how they optimise the in-store environment for today’s mobile user, as opposed to creating restrictions, particularly if they wish to create a seamless omnichannel experience that eliminates friction.

Vanessa explains: “The increasing use of mobile devices is already starting to shift consumer expectations so retailers need to optimise the in-store experience for today’s mobile user. However, this new patent does the opposite of this. Our research clearly highlights how mobile is forming an integral part of the customer journey. It’s also common practice for consumers to check online before committing to a purchase. As such, not being able to use your mobile device as you wish would be frustrating for customers, but could also lead to distrust and could harm brand loyalty.

“Instead retailers should explore how they can boost in-store mobility as a way to create a more personalised and positive customer experience. This will ultimately lead to higher levels of shopper satisfaction and ultimately sales.”

Qmatic’s research also found that customers would be willing to use click and collect services via a self-service kiosk (28 per cent), in-store mobile payments (19 per cent), and mobile checkouts (19 per cent). Surprisingly, over half (53 per cent) have never experienced any of these technologies in British stores.

Vanessa adds: “Mobile technology enables customers and employees to move around the retail environment seamlessly, either while they await their service interaction or as they are engaged in the interaction itself, and team members can relate personally and directly with customers on their terms from anywhere in the environment. Retailers can offer a personalised experience – via a mobile app on a tablet for example – understanding and processing the customers’ needs as they walk in the door.

“Most retailers have already optimised their websites for today’s mobile generation, but the same must now be true for the in-store environment. Mobile technology is the connecting force that stands to join the online and physical worlds; this technology helps to match and exceed the seamlessness of online shopping, ultimately creating a more omnichannel experience. The integration of mobile technology to the in-store environment can win over new customers, deepen relationships with existing customers, and raise the productivity and satisfaction levels of staff members,” concludes Vanessa.