Today, people are more “connected” than ever, between smart phones, tablets, folks can take the internet with them wherever they go.
Trends are suggesting that people are taking those devices shopping with them.
According to the National Retail Federation, last June 44% of smart phone usage was retail internet minutes.
These changes in consumer’s behaviors have caused an entire industry to re-invent themselves.
More than half of consumers in the United States with internet access now shop online at least once a month.
I spent the day at the biggest mall in the country, the Mall of America, talking with people about online shopping.
Nearly every person we spoke with tells me they’ve online shopped before and about half said they preferred it to shopping at the mall.
“If I’m going to buy anything online it’s going to be electronics, TVs, iPods, games,” says online shopper Kevin Bakeer.
“You order it and it shows up at your house, you can be in your jammies,” says online shopper, Lottie Steinke.
With changes in technology and online shopping on the rise, shopping centers like the Mall of America have had to evolve to keep shoppers coming through the doors.
“Consumer behaviors have completely shifted because of mobile devices.”
Jill Renslow is the Vice President of Marketing for the Mall, her job is to make sure people continue to do their shopping here versus staying at home.
“It’s more important now than ever to make sure the experience we deliver is very unique and they can’t get that online,” says Renslow,
In order to achieve that they work on keeping the building fresh by keeping brands in the mall that people want and getting rid of stores’ so called ‘tired’ merchandise.
Mall leaders also work to incorporate technology into the customer’s shopping experience.
One way they do that is through their “communication command center”, which is a way for the mall to get in touch with shoppers through text messaging and e-mail.
“At any one given time you can communicate with the Mall of America and get information about parking, shopping tips, deals and recommendations as far as whatever their shopping excursion is going to be,” she adds.
But for many shoppers, technology can’t replace the experience of going to a store.
“I like coming to the mall because you get to try everything out, make sure it’s what you like, you get to look at it up close and in person you get to try everything out,” says shopper, Eli Burch.
“I feel like I get energy from people, just around me and the loud noises,” says shopper, Sanni Bargain
Some retailers have brought online smart phone shopping and in-store shopping together through applications or apps for instance, Target has one called “Cartwheel.”
“With Cartwheel it’s changing just how everything is working.”
It’s an app you download to your smart phone or tablet and functions as a virtual grocery list, it offers discounts on certain items and if you’re not the best with technology, Target employees are there to help.
“I know there’s quite a few guests that we have come in, they do love the app, we have a bunch of employees here that they really know a lot about the app and so I think guests appreciate being able to have somebody that’s knowledgeable to help them,” says Target manager, Cassie Masters.
Once you have the items selected, all the available discounts are put on one barcode which is then scanned at the register.
I purchased two small items and saved about 75 cents, which might not seem like a lot but masters says the savings will add up.
“Really it’s just a helpful tool to help people save money and get more bang for their bucks.”
And if there’s one thing nearly all shoppers can agree on, whether it’s online or in store is a bargain.
“I’m the shopaholic, I don’t spend a lot, I’m a bargain shopper,” says shopper, Bargain.