Already playing an integral role in simplifying services like hailing a ride to the airport, the smartphone also can help drive traffic to stores and sell merchandise.

Keith Duncan, the Austin, Tex.-based vice president of discount coupon marketplace Retailmenot Inc., explained the various ways that stores have turned to smartphones as marketing tools. For instance, Banana Republic offered a 10 percent discount via customers’ mobile phones if they came to a store, while Toys ‘R’ Us sent an ad to users who checked into a shop via Foursquare. More marketers can capitalize on consumers’ nomophobia, or the physical anxiety caused by not being near their phones or by waning battery power.

“Mobile is the dominant story,” he said. “It’s only going to get bigger and bigger.”

Opportunities with mobile users are bountiful. Duncan said Retailmenot conducted a recent study with more than 120 retailers showing that 62 percent of in-store offers are claimed via mobile. Eighteen months ago, that figure was 5 percent.

Plus, proximity results in increased probability. In an Omnibus survey released last April, 51 percent of respondents said they would enter a store if they received an offer on their phone near the store and 63 percent said they would buy something if they got an offer while in the store. Google Think Insights said 84 percent of smartphone shoppers use their phones in physical retail locations. Moreover, Forrester Research reported that every $1 spent on a mobile campaign netted $6.31 in sales over three years.

Yet retailers face challenges in reaching the mobile-dependent consumer. Not only do they need to create a seamless experience across all channels, but they need to understand the mobile user. They also need to learn how to attribute sales to specific channels while calculating their profits and losses.

The trends for 2014 continue on mobile. While the adoption of digital wallets, in which a consumer’s credit card information is stored in their phone, has fallen short, Retailmenot plans to test beacon wireless networking technology this year to pinpoint a shopper’s location in a store and send special offers. After all, in another survey released by Omnibus in January, 53 percent of shoppers plan to use their smartphones while shopping and 15 percent plan to use their tablets more frequently.

“You need to connect with your consumer at any time anywhere on any device,” he said.

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