A new way to shop

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By Patti Kirkpatrick By Patti Kirkpatrick

PHOENIX – I don’t know about you but, contrary to the female stereotype, I just don’t like to shop.

I’ve even gotten pretty adept at spotting clothes from online suppliers that I know will work for me. Amazon and I go way back. It started with books but now includes everything from pet supplies to personal products like lotion and lip balm. 

Recently, I needed a long, informal dress for a fundraiser and found something that worked on Amazon. 

Apparently, I’m in good company. High gas prices are putting a pinch on consumers’ wallets and retailers are courting online shoppers by ramping up their mobile and social efforts. This is not good news for malls but I believe they will adapt and find new ways to keep customers interested.

Retailers are moving beyond the four walls of the mall, even beyond the desktop and increasingly making it so consumers can shop for what they need when they want, even if the nearest brick-and-mortar store is miles away.

A new survey from shop.org, the digital arm of the National Retail Federation, finds stores are embracing mobile and social initiatives more now than they did even a year ago. 

When it comes to social media, most say the biggest return on the investment is hearing from customers and understanding what they’re looking for.  Ninety-one percent of retailers say they have a mobile strategy in place or in development, up from 74 percent this time last year.

Almost half of retailers say they’ve made their website more mobile-friendly, giving customers the opportunity to shop on-the-go from smart phones or tablets. 

The top capabilities stores are targeting for their apps include storing a shopping list, coupons, alerts for in-store events and even the ability to compare items using customer reviews.

Also look for more sales associates to be mobile as they assist you too.  Almost one in three stores surveyed say they plan to give staffers tablets or smart phones to help improve customer service.