Is your business ready for the rise of mobile shoppers?

From a local advertiser’s perspective, the biggest trend to prepare for in 2012 is mobile shopping. In fact, the trend has already started for many businesses—retailers, for example, or “urban service” providers like restaurants, beauty salons and so on, which people tend to search for while they’re on the go. In some areas, businesses that can’t be found by mobile shoppers are actually losing a lot of customers.

Mobile shopping is accelerating at a fast pace. Of the 6.6 million Canadians who own a smartphone[1] 63 percent use it to search for businesses at least once a week[2]while 53 percent use it to make a purchase[3]. These numbers are likely to increase dramatically in 2012 as smartphone sales continue to go through the roof, and telecommunication companies offer increasingly attractive deals.

For small businesses, the question is: how can you get mobile shoppers to find—and choose—your company?

Get noticed

Firstly, you need to make sure your business appears in the search results of business directories typically used on smartphones. This means updating your business information on, Google Places and Facebook. All of these services provide free basic online profiles for businesses.

Be mobile-friendly

Secondly, your company website must be optimized for mobile browsers. A mobile website should feel like a mobile app: minimalistic design, simple functions, key information, and nothing more. Using a special script that recognizes mobile browsers when they visit your website, you can offer these browsers a minimalist, mobile-friendly design while continuing to offer your regular website design and content for desktop computers. Note that offers this script as part of its Website Solution.

Stand out from the competition

How can you set yourself apart if your competitors also embrace the mobile shopping revolution (which they may very well be doing right now)? One way is to invest in a preferred placement on the Yellow Pages mobile app. With three million downloads and counting, you will be reaching about half of Canadian smartphone users. And people shopping just a few blocks away will be able to see your business on their smartphone screens.

Boost your mobile leads

Another crucial element in attracting mobile shoppers is advertising, whether it be search or display advertising. You can generate leads by buying keywords in search engines, or boost awareness by creating a rich brand experience with an interactive mobile app, for example. For more details on mobile advertising, you can read the brand new study from my colleagues at Mediative: “A Realistic View on Mobile Advertising in Canada”. Available as a free download, this report compares the performance of various mobile campaigns using search and display ads.

Offer mobile deals

Last but not least, offer mobile deals. If someone is searching and finds three or four similar businesses in the same area, they are sure to pick the one offering some kind of a deal or discount on their product(s). You can promote such offers on mobile devices through services like Shopwise, a newly-released app by Yellow Pages aimed at shopping-savvy consumers. With other apps like Foursquare, you can even reward your mobile customers when they “check in” at your place of business. Now if a free reward doesn’t keep them coming back, I don’t know what will!

[1] comScore via eMarketer, May 2011

[2] Ipsos Reid, May 2011

[3] Google/IPSOS OTX MediaCT, April 2011

Originally published in Life is Yellow a blog by Yellow Pages Group on January 9, 2012

Image: Stuart Miles