Mobile — it’s in the headlines, blogs, tweets and Quora questions. There are whole conferences dedicated to it, books written about it and benchmarking reports generated on it. It’s changing just about everything as we know it, and it’s doing so at an exponential rate.
Less than a decade ago, mobile payments didn’t exist. Now, mobile commerce is predicted to account for nearly half of all e-commerce sales by the end of 2018. It even has its own official, widely used abbreviation, so you know it’s real and here to stay (say hello to “m-commerce,” the newest permanent addition to your everyday vocabulary).
The average consumer today spends about three hours a day on a mobile device. That’s three hours a day that they’re engaging with content and products they’re interested in, or at the very least are making some connection to what they’re seeing on their screens. Consumers today are social, they’re curious, and they’re more demanding than ever before.
Mobile Is Changing EVERYTHING
Remember when smartphones and tablets were mainly used as on-the-go devices, an accessory to our trusty desktops? According to a recent eMarketer report, mobile devices are on their way to replacing desktops as the primary means of online access at home. This trend toward hyperconnectivity is a catalyst of change in the path-to-purchase model as we know it.
Today’s consumer is an informed consumer. Most people are researching what they buy before they make the actual purchase. They’re also influenced by their peers (cue social media, but more about that later) when deciding which of the hundreds of products out there they want to buy in the first place. Mobile has allowed for this pre-purchase research and discovery to be done virtually anywhere, which means that consumers can spend more time and effort educating themselves on what they’re buying.
How many of you have checked Amazon before buying a product you’re unfamiliar with? The digital push has added a new responsibility to online retailers’ roles, making them as much a repository of information as a channel for making purchases.
What about the in-store experience? Fear not, brick-and-mortar retailers. Mobile technology may be changing the way your customers interact with your physical stores, but it’s not there to detract from the experience, or eliminate it altogether. In fact, younger generations think it’s important that an online retailer has a physical store to go with it. B&M retailers should look at mobile as a tool that enhances the overall shopping experience. Once a customer is inside a store, they’re often more likely to complete the purchase there, so it’s critical that you arm them with all the tools and information they need at their fingertips. Now is the time to experiment with indoor positioning technology, or RFID technology to, say, let your dog shop for its own toys. Who knows, you could even find yourself integrating virtual reality into your retail strategy in the near future.
The biggest draw of m-commerce is, arguably, the convenience of being able to buy something quickly and easily on your mobile device. This need for quick and seamless user design also happens to be the biggest pain point in mobile. The lack of a frictionless sales channel leaves many retailers frustrated when shoppers leave abandoned shopping carts due to clunky, cumbersome checkout processes and mobile UNfriendly sites. Some solutions? The buy button. Mobile wallets. One-step checkouts #ForTheWin.
Let’s talk social media. In the past few years, Pinterest and Instagram exploded on the scene, flooding us with enviable vacation destinations, slow-cooker recipes, DIY guides and a slew of trendy outfit ideas. What’s more, 47% of US online shoppers say they have made a purchase based on a Pinterest recommendation. Pinterest was quick to figure out that people were engaging with content that they wanted for themselves, and the buyable pin was born. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are now hot on Pinterest’s heels to follow suit.
What Can You Do?
We can’t begin to stress the importance of adding mobile to your retail strategy. Here are a few quick tips to help you tackle the giant that is m-commerce:
- Mobile can be expensive. Instead of spending big bucks on developing an app, optimize your site for mobile and leverage the popularity of existing apps like Amazon and eBay.
- Harness the power of social media. Buy buttons and retargeting ads make it easier than ever for consumers to purchase right from a social platform. Use social media’s reach/popularity to your advantage.
- Listen to your customers. We live in a digital era that’s constantly changing. Pay close attention to user data to tailor your mobile strategy to your customers’ wants and needs.
- Most emails are now read on mobile devices, so if you don’t have the bandwidth to optimize your site for mobile, the very least you can do is optimize your email campaigns so that they’re responsive and compatible with any device.
Blog post by Anna Torres, social media and blog specialist at ChannelAdvisor
Want more advice on going mobile? Check out our eBook How to Go Mobile Without Going Broke.