Mobile Targeting of Product Inventory Searches: A Field Experiment

Prof. Le WANG, Assistant Professor, City University of Hong Kong

Date: 29 March 2023 (Wednesday)
Time: 10:30am – 11:30am
Venue: Online via Zoom
Host: Prof. Yan LIN, Assistant Professor in Business Intelligence and Analytics
Zoom Link: https://umac.zoom.us/j/91716960448


The ubiquitous usage of mobile apps facilitates a seamless omnichannel shopping experience, in which customers can use mobile apps to search for timely product inventory information at specific stores before planning a store visit. Despite the prevalent business practice of targeting customers during the product search stage, little empirical evidence exists to validate its effectiveness. In collaboration with a large lifestyle retailer that operates hundreds of offline stores and a mobile shopping app, this study investigates the business impact of mobile targeting of customers searching for in-store product inventory information on customer purchasing intention and store visits. The analysis is based on a randomized field experiment in which 9,838 customers are randomly selected and undergo one of three targeting treatment conditions: no targeting, ad-only targeting (providing popular in-store product information), and incentive targeting (providing popular in-store production information with a financial incentive). We demonstrate that inventory search targeting (IST) is only marginally effective in facilitating customers’ store visits and purchases. The underlying reason is that travel distance moderates IST effectiveness. IST is effective for proximal customers, but its effects are attenuated for customers who are far from offline stores. Furthermore, we find that IST is effective for non-premium members but not premium members. We also observe spillover effects of IST on products other than the focal products that customers searched for. Lastly, an IST message that includes a financial incentive is more effective in increasing consumption than an IST message without incentives. Although travel distance still moderates the effectiveness of IST with incentives, the negative effect of increasing distance is attenuated. Our findings have important implications for managers who design mobile promotions targeting customers performing product searches.


Prof. Le WANG is an assistant professor in the Department of Information Systems at the City University of Hong Kong. He received his Ph.D. from the Nanyang Business School at Nanyang Technological University. His general areas of research are health informatics, application of AI in business, and user behavior in digital platforms, with a focus on understanding individual behavior in this digital era.

All are welcome!