At our Digital Connect event this month, we explored why mobile enablement is still very much a work in progress and addressed the consumer appetite for digital, asking whether customer expectations were being met.

Long gone are the days when a mobile phone was solely used to make calls. With the growing pace of technology, smartphones have changed the fabric of our lives, and have taken their place firmly in our hands everywhere we go. Businesses have had to adapt quickly to accommodate mobile as a route for customer experience, but they’re still missing out on a huge opportunity.

New Eagle Eye research into in-store consumer behaviour reveals that this digital gap in physical stores has nothing to do with customer attitudes. In fact, just like in nearly every other scenario in today’s digital age, the smartphone is still firmly in the consumer’s hand or tucked in their back pocket, ready to enhance the shopping experience. The stats show that 60% of shoppers are using their mobile as they walk around the store, with 16 to 24-year-olds using it to listen to music (42%) and check social media (37%), but hardly ever to actually interact with the retailer (17% to locate a product and just 15% to pay).

But with younger shoppers paving the way into a smartphone-led society, it won’t be long before one big player in the grocery world takes note and changes the industry’s ways. Digital creates an improved customer experience and brings immediate benefits for the business, closing the loop of increased satisfaction and higher ROI. It also provides grocers with invaluable consumer data and it’s only through data that businesses can give customers what they want, not what they think they want.

For example, 42% of consumers said it would improve their shopping experience if they could see in-store availability before visiting. A large grocer in the future could start offering a customer app, where shoppers could input their shopping list and check it’s all available in their local store before visiting. Thanks to the data this brings, the grocer could then target the same customer and send them a personalised discount code for an item they regularly buy. In-store wi-fi means grocers can now know exactly when and where consumers are in-store.

Millennial customers are starting to equate a digital experience with a better experience and smartphones are already there, waiting to be used. By feeding this digital desire, grocers have the opportunity to set themselves apart from the competition while increasing footfall and sales. Consumers have great expectations; it’s time retailers lived up to them.

Tim Mason is CEO of Eagle Eye