31/03/2015 07:27 BST | Updated 30/05/2015 06:59 BST

Cross-Device Retailing: Connecting the Digital Dots

Research shows there is an average of three devices per household in the UK, and I am certainly no exception to this rule. With access to several devices, consumers now have the luxury of shopping and accessing content online via multiple devices, no longer restrained by the desktop. From mobiles, to tablets and laptops, the UK has officially become a nation of device hoppers. This is great news for consumers, but for retailers and marketers, it presents an almighty challenge as the customer journey becomes increasingly complex.

I recently attended Retail Week LIVE where we launched a joint report in partnership with Retail Week entitled Cross Device Retailing; connecting the digital dots. Unsurprisingly, the report, which surveyed 1,000 people in the UK, found that 48 percent of shoppers discover, search and buy products using multiple devices. In fact, almost 70 percent of respondents say they use multiple devices to purchase products online at least half the time. So, while desktop computers have traditionally dominated the office and home environments it is interesting to note the impact that mobile devices are having on the purchase journey and how the consumer shops online today. While the primary focus for mobile is still based around research, the introduction of larger form factors such as the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy, as well as the increase in mobile optimised sites, means that mobile devices are quickly becoming integral to the purchasing process as well as the background research phase.

This trend towards completing a purchase on a mobile device is further highlighted by the willingness of consumers to purchase on-the-go, with almost a third of respondents stating they would and have purchase a product outside of the home, or desktop environment.

So what does this mean for marketers and the existing marketing campaigns in place? It is clear that retailers must adjust their marketing strategies. The natural gravitation consumers have to mobile devices means that marketing strategies need to be flexible and ready to change at any stage. One way to make the most of this growing opportunity is for brands to engage the multi-screen user in a consistent way. However, the biggest historical hurdle in cross-screen marketing has been knowing the exact identity of shoppers. Who is buying? Why are they buying? What device are they buying from?

Thankfully, the emergence of new cross-device technologies provides user identification with an exact match, making blind implied guessing a thing of the past. These advancements gives retailers and marketers visibility over who is buying what and from where and will radically change the game in mobile marketing, enabling retailers to engage and generate incremental sales from mobile sales.

Looking to the future, the introduction of wearable technologies such as smartwatches and fitness bands are set to make tracking the customer journey even trickier - the more devices you introduce, the more complicated it becomes. However, retailers that embrace the multi-device trend and work to integrate a truly effective mobile offering with online shopping platforms, will be best placed to succeed in today's digital world.