NEW YORK: Retailers such as Best Buy, The Body Shop and Sears are using a diverse range of mobile tools to enhance the in-store experience, as they seek to stave off the threat of "showrooming".

Best Buy, the electronics chain, recently formed a tie-up with edo Interactive, a firm providing "card-linked" deals for customers of financial services groups like Ally Bank and Fifth Third Bank.

Consumers with linked cards automatically join any available schemes and receive updates about deals via their phone, email or the web. Simply making a purchase lets them redeem the offer.

Jeff Fagel, edo's vice president of marketing, told Ad Age that of the buyers participating in a test during March, fully 80% were new customers, and 25% made another purchase within the next 90 days. 

The Body Shop, the beauty retailer, has also worked with edo since March, and believes it has benefits for firms attemtping to build their audience without major in-house technological abilities.

"It's ecommerce, but it drives foot traffic and it's measurable – as opposed to a sign outside the store," said Emery Skolfield, The Body Shop's senior director of e-commerce.

"As a smaller-sized retail brand that doesn't have tremendous awareness in U.S. market, we are always looking for opportunities to get in front of consumers in ways that are a) convenient for them and b) close to sale," he said.

Walmart, the biggest retailer in the US, may boast a considerably larger scale than The Body Shop, but it similarly believes that closely meeting the needs of shoppers is essential via this channel.

"Walmart's iPhone app recognises when customers are in our stores, and changes its interface to features designed to help customers shop our physical stores," Ravi Jariwala, its director of public relations, told the E-Commerce Times.

Target, a rival to Walmart, has been particularly keen to tackle "showrooming", where people compare prices in stores on a phone and buy online. It is, however, tapping such devices for its own uses.

"We are expanding our use of shoppable media, incorporating QR codes and text-to-buy features," Kathryn Tesija, Target's EVP, merchandising, said on a conference call. "We [also] recently installed new scanners at point of sale in all of our stores to make mobile coupon redemption smoother and faster than ever."

Elsewhere, Sears, the department store chain, has equipped nearly half of its branches with iPads, which can "drive content shopping experiences" in categories like appliances, electronics and fitness.

Robert Schriesheim, its chief financial officer, said such moves helped develop an "ecosystem of stores, brands, online channels, social media assets, mobile applications, technology investments and ... our Shop Your Way membership program."

Data sourced from Ad Age, E-Commerce Times, Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff