November 10, 2016
Retailers: It's time to fix mobile
By Annie Mueller
Here's why mobile matters:
- "Mobile users consider their devices to be a part of themselves. A study of mobile behavior by ExactTarget found that 85% of respondents said mobile devices are a central part of everyday life, signifying connectivity to all that’s going on in their world. Mobile connectivity also represents personal space that can be customized to meet one’s needs" (Data Mentors).
75% of Target's customers start their purchase journey on mobile. About one third of smartphone users in the U.S. research purchases on mobile at least once every week. 82% of shoppers say they use their phones to look up information and reviews on purchases they're about to make in a store.
Using mobile to connect with a retail brand is not a part of the customer journey; it's not a singular activity; it's not a pre-shopping or post-shopping option. Rather, mobile interaction is the essential shopping activity, and the "in-store visit" and actual purchase of a product are merely aspects of a customer's mobile connection with a brand.
Retail brands that recognize mobile as the central platform for the customer journey will have a huge advantage over all other retail brands. Mobile-focused retailers will connect with customers more frequently, engage their attention, get their recommendations, and, ultimately, win their loyalty and purchase dollars.
Retail brands who don't invest adequately in a superior mobile experience, on the other hand, will lose customer attention, customer loyalty, and customer dollars.
A bad mobile experience is, most likely, a lost customer.
To win loyalty and sales, mobile has to mean that customers can find the information they want easily and quickly. No lagging mobile sites, no missing images, no boring app that doesn't appeal or engage.
What customers want most in mobile is twofold: first, they want convenience in their pre- and post-purchase tasks.
Shoppers define convenience in a number of ways:
- instant information ("What aisle is this product? What's the typical battery life? Is this waterproof? Have these been discontinued? What other sizes are available?")
- peer feedback and real-world reviews
- quick answers on availability ("Does my local store have this product? How long before it's in stock? Can I have it shipped?")
- mobile ordering or purchasing options
- an easy way to review products they've purchased
- automatic loyalty rewards/points for purchases
- easy ways to share info about their purchase with their social networks
Customers also want to know that they're making the best possible purchase.
Sometimes, this means getting the best possible deal; in this case, consumers want coupons, particularly exclusive offers and deals, and they like having them delivered on mobile so they're easy to access and use in-store.
In many other shopping situations, the best possible purchase has nothing to do with price and everything to do with the details and options related to the product in question. Customers don't want all the options; they want the best options, the options that fit their needs and preferences. The best way for retailers to provide this is with a built-in filter that works as a personalization engine in their mobile app.
The demand for the best possible purchase is why personalization on mobile is one of the most important factors in a mobile experience. Personalization platforms enable customers to quickly get to the "best fit" products, and then spend their time comparing and choosing which of those best-fit items is the best possible purchase.
Personalization also adds more convenience to a mobile app or website; personalization enables shortcuts and cuts out unnecessary steps in those shopping tasks. Mobile personalization lets customers do what they want and find what they need in the fewest possible number of steps.
- "...personalization is a common pathway to obtaining the level of convenience many shoppers desire. For example, product recommendations or coupons based on purchase history, interests, or even location can increase the convenience factor for consumers. In a market driven by price wars, creating a unique experience through personalization is a key factor in differentiating your brand from all of the rest" (Adobe).
Customers want mobile. Customers use mobile.
But mobile is often disappointing. And customers, overall, aren't very happy with the mobile experience that retailers are giving them.
- "While nearly 75% of users prefer a mobile-friendly site, 96% of consumers say they've encountered sites that were clearly not designed for mobile devices. This is both a big problem and a big opportunity for companies seeking to engage with mobile users" (ThinkwithGoogle).
One recent poll found that 67 % of shoppers would "stop using an e-commerce webpage if the product and sales pages weren't operating properly on their smartphone."
61% of shoppers who don't find what they are looking for right away on a mobile site will quickly move on to another site. And 50% of shoppers noted that, even if they like a business, they will shop there less often if the website isn't mobile-friendly.
Some retailers haven't developed a truly mobile-friendly website or a satisfying mobile app. Other brands have, but haven't promoted it to their customers. Both failures are deadly in a mobile-shopping world.
Mobile is where the money is, and where it will continue to go.
For brands, an appealing and engaging mobile app is, by far, the most powerful customer loyalty and profit-boosting tool available. Mobile apps show higher conversion rates than mobile browsers. A user inside a brand's mobile app is focused on content and offers from the brand, whereas a user searching on a mobile browser can quickly and easily be pulled away from a brand's mobile website to a competitor's mobile website.
- "...retailers with successful apps are driving higher volumes of mobile commerce than the average. While apps constituted a bare majority (54 percent) of mobile transactions by volume, app-based mobile shoppers are much more engaged and much more likely to convert than mobile web users. According to the report, app-conversion rates were 120 percent higher than mobile browser conversions and higher than desktop conversions, as well" (MarketingLand).
However, shoppers still use and like being able to use mobile browsers and mobile websites. If brands focus exclusively on mobile apps, they'll lose potential and "casual" customers to competitors who offer a great mobile site experience.
- "The apps versus mobile browser discussion is really about audience segmentation and user behavior patterns. While apps are ideal for nurturing loyalty, the mobile web is preferred for convenience and reach" (Business.com).
To attract new customers and to win loyalty from casual customers, brands need a well-developed mobile website that will show up in search results and deliver a great mobile experience, from product hunt to purchase.
To build customer loyalty, provide customer service, raise repeat sales, and continually engage with customers, brands need a well-developed mobile app that delivers convenience and personalization, and rewards customers for being loyal.
Mobile is not an important aspect of how consumers now prefer to shop. Mobile is shopping. Mobile is the foundation on which smart brands can build all other aspects of the customer experience, from product research to long-term customer service. It's a hefty investment to create both a high-caliber mobile website and a fully functioning, appealing, and engaging mobile app; for brands who want to succeed, however, it's not an optional investment.
For brick-and-mortar brands who have struggled to compete with ecommerce giants like Amazon, the mobile shopping revolution is great news. For mobile shoppers (read: all shoppers), any retailer with a great mobile website and a great mobile app is a great place to shop. Mobile may well turn out to be the great leveling tool of the retail playing field that has been, for a while now, tilted heavily in favor of digital-native retailers.
- "There's no longer a delineation between how our guests live life and how they shop; they just shop whenever they have time. They want to flow seamlessly across all of our channels ... and we've got to make that happen by having the right underlying architecture." - Casey Carl, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer for Target