Retailers in traditional U.S. stores face growing competition with online sales, a problem that grows particularly acute during the traditional holiday shopping season in November and December.
Internet experts at the technology firm Cisco say traditional retailers can take advantage of the many tech-savvy shoppers who still want to check the quality and color of merchandise in person before they make purchases.
Cisco's chief marketing officer Blair Christy says a new survey shows that retailers can make more sales to often affluent shoppers by making it easier for them to use their smart phones to make purchases while they are in the store.
"It’s also a matter of survival, these are the shoppers of the future, and 43 percent of these tech-savvy shoppers are younger than 49 so you are talking about the way shopping is going to change, not just this holiday season, but going forward," said Christy.
Christy says many retailers are already providing wifi connections and shopping apps. But some innovative stores are going further by using information gleaned online about shoppers' preferences and making sure shoppers can easily locate relevant items in the store. Others offer digital coupons, and make it easy for shoppers to place online orders for merchandise that is out of stock in the store.
These new approaches follow years of complaints by retailers about "showrooming" shoppers who visit traditional stores to evaluate merchandise and then actually buy their goods on the Internet from less expensive online competitors. Frustrated traditional merchants say online retailers have an unfair advantage because they don't have to pay high rents in shopping districts or pay sales clerks.
Christy says online sales are likely to grow around the world in the wake of the soaring number of smart phones in use in many nations.