Local Plus Mobile, The Quick & The Dead

Jul 15

Local Plus Mobile, The Quick & The Dead

This was published by the Australian Goods & Homewares Assoc. 4 July ’13.  Thanks very much to my co-author (read… ghost writer!) Jennifer O’Donnell.


Local Plus Mobile, sorting out the quick… from the dead


I have written before about the importance of Aussie retailers to get on board with mobile marketing, especially as Australia is still the first-world’s fastest adopter of smartphones. (See my last blog for AGHA). In the new mobile world, it is a little like a wild west land-grab. Mobiles are opening up new opportunities for online retailers to take business from bricks-and-mortar, and creating opportunities for retailers to snatch customers from their competitors while in-store. If you are a retailer, you need to ask yourself this question:  will you be quick, or will you be dead?

Mobile has said to be the ‘Swiss army knife’ of marketing – it does many things, especially where advertising intersects location (or location-based marketing). There’s a couple of ways to make sure your business stays on top of location-based marketing, and ahead of the competition not only to attract new customers, but get more from the customers you already have.

The easiest way to attract new local customers is through search. Digging a little, we’ve had some fun with Google’s Our Mobile Planet to pull together some figures about how smartphones are intersecting retail in this country and how we compare to our neighbour New Zealand and our big brother across the pond, the USA.

This first snapshot shows the frequency that smartphones are used to conduct searches for local-based information. Those numbers in Australia are close to 50% on a weekly basis. It is a number that is catching up to the US figures at close to 60%.

Chart1: In 2012, Australian smartphone users conducted searches for local information at least once a week an average time of 48%, 18% of those conducted daily searches. 

So they made a local search – wacko! Before you dismiss the power of the smartphone take a look at chart 2.

After a local search 50% of people are visiting a store, and 28% are buying something in-store and a further 53% will visit that local store’s website. Local searches are driving footfall, visits to local business and sales. Perhaps my assumption is too broad but I gather that, as they are searches, these are new customers. Now you have to ask yourself, how much is a new customer worth to me?


Chart2:  Action taken after conducting a local search on smartphone. A whopping 50% visiting in-store and a 28% in-store transaction rate. 

It’s not hard to start driving local sales through search. Just take advantage of Google’s Adwords, which you can target by location and once you get the hang of it, it’s surprisingly easy. You should also at least list yourself on Google Places (see my previous blog on how to.)

To get more from the customers you have and engage with location-based marketing, the best way is through apps. In 2012, Australian consumers were averaging 28 apps on their smartphone with 42% expecting to increase that number.

One of those apps is likely to be a price comparison shopping tool. The stats put 22% of smartphone users changing their mind about an in-store purchase and 24% of smartphone users intentionally take their smartphones with them while shopping for the sole purpose of researching products and services. So what do we do? Well it’s illegal to block phone signals in-store and I also think that charging people to try your product is unlikely to engender long term loyalty. Perhaps you can use smartphone shopping in-store as a way to start a discussion about your  relevant offers, warranties and guarantees, and loyalty bonuses?

An interesting fact coming out of the US is that retailers apps are now being used more often and longer than price comparison apps. Shoppers are loyal to brands and shops, and if you give them an easy way to interact with you when they are at home or out and about, they will.

StreetHawk (my company) has a technology that can be embedded in retailer apps that easily enables them to send personalised messages to their customers when they are around stores (or perhaps in their competitors). It’s a great way to get more from your current customers by creating a real-world call to action.

One last chart as food for thought. Although about 75% of us are using smartphones when we’re out and about to research local products and services, 62% of us are also using them to do the same at home. That means we still need them to understand what’s in our local area.


Chart 3:  62% of searches for products and services on mobile phones are conducted while at home. The top 5 locations in Australia are Home, On-the-go, Work, In a store and on Public transport. 

With the growth of solutions like Apple’s Passbook, Google’s local search and StreetHawk’s personalised location-based push notifications, retailers can immediately look to cash in on voucher tracking, offer notifications and build loyalty with existing and new customers alike.  If you’re not taking mobile and location-based marketing seriously you’re more than missing an opportunity – you could be left behind and worse still, left for dead in modern day’s wild west.

Natasha Rawlings is the CEO of StreetHawk, a total location-based marketing solution for retailers, brands, venues and apps that want to create real-world utility. For more information, call her on 0431 317937 or write to her at natasha@streethawk.com.



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