Greater use of technology to offer shoppers a more mobile-friendly shopping experience in-store is helping UK retailers to unlock an extra £200m in sales each year and can help driving footfall.
That is the key finding of a new study from RetailMeNot, the operator of VoucherCodes.co.uk, and the Centre for Retail Research.
It appears to support recent research from Apadmi, which claimed retailers could combat the threat of mass job losses – predicted to be as high as 900,000 by 2025 – by embracing technology to make customers more loyal and bring them back to the high street.
RetailMeNot says that although smartphones are increasingly used on all stages of their shopping journey, when it comes to payments most Brits are still sticking to cash or card to pay. UK shoppers spent just £17.24m via mobile payment services in-store last year.
This may be almost twice as much as shoppers in France (£9.6m) and Germany (£9.6m), but it pales in comparison compared to the US, where shoppers spent £173.23m in-store in 2015.
The study found that mobile vouchers helped to drive £189.62m in sales in UK stores last year. Comparatively, shoppers spent £125.74m using mobile vouchers in France, £105.54 million in Germany, and £591.58m in the US.
While half of UK consumers have admitted to ‘showrooming’; using smartphones or tablet devices to investigate reviews, product information and prices whilst in-store, the RetailMeNot study shows 44% of shoppers in the UK are willing to spend more in mobile-friendly stores.
By improving the experience of mobile shoppers in-store through offering services such as mobile reservations, loyalty programmes, vouchers and payments, high street stores could unlock £7.8 billion in additional sales, the research claims.
While mobile is increasingly used to purchase online, with over a third (35.6%) of ecommerce spend in the UK expected to be carried on a mobile this year device this year,  smartphones are also an extremely effective – and as yet under-utilised – tool for driving footfall into physical retail stores.
Consumer preferences for mobile-oriented facilities in stores included loyalty schemes held on mobiles (40.4%), mobile payment options to avoid queuing (36.7%), apps to order food and drink ahead of arrival (35.8%) and alerts for discounts available in the area (34.3%). 
By using a combination of geo-fencing capability, email outreach and additional visibility through media and social networks, retailers can maximise the impact of mobile to promote their offers to influence consumers for their high street shopping.
One company which has benefited from a partnership with VoucherCodes.co.uk is chocolatier Hotel Chocolat, which is using vouchers to drive sales both online and in-store.
Through VoucherCodes.co.uk, Hotel Chocolat has been able to send targeted promotions to 8 million high-intent shoppers and 4 million app users, allowing them to redeem those offers both online and in-store. Results showed that up to a third of customers chose the high-street, illustrating the strength of digital channels to drive footfall into stores.
Michelle Corp, online trading manager at Hotel Chocolat, said: “We have always recognised the importance of digital channels – and ever more importantly mobile – to drive footfall into stores. Multichannel promotions have proven a very effective way of encouraging discovery of our product range and brand experience, not only online but also in-store. As the shopping journey becomes more complex, we are committed to allowing customers to shop as and where they want and ensuring consistency of message and experience.”
RetailMeNot vice-president of retail and brand solutions Severine Philardeau added: “Mobile has become an integral part of the shopping experience, both in-store and online. Shoppers now flit between multiple channels throughout the shopping journey, using a smartphone or tablet to browse, research, and make purchases via apps, mobile websites and payment in-store.
“Faced with this increasingly complex environment, mobile offers retailers the opportunity to enhance the shopping experience and to drive repeat sales across all channels. New technologies such as geofencing can help to capture customers through targeted offers while they’re out shopping on high street and guide them in-store.
“Forward-facing retailers are now rethinking the shopping journey with mobile at the centre and they see the broader potential of mobile technologies beyond the mobile transaction.”
Mobile apps ‘could breathe new life into high street’