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5 ways retailers can get better at mobile

By Paul Skeldon September 19, 2017 - 3:17 pm

You don’t need to look far to find a huge statistic about the scale of m-commerce today. According to Oppenheimer, half of US shoppers use Amazon’s mobile app, and Alibaba revealed in its 2017 fiscal year statement that mobile revenue for its e-commerce business increased 80% to US$13.18 billion – generating 80% of its total retail revenue in the country. Consumers are embracing the ease and flexibility mobile can offer.

But despite the surge in traffic and consumer adoption, there is a problem. Retailers are struggling to convert – statistics show the industry average card abandonment rate on mobile is 69%. There are several key reasons for this: poor UX, scepticism about the security of paying on mobile, and viewing mobile as a research tool rather than a place to order. It’s clear there is a huge missed opportunity for retailers to capitalise on the potential of this shift in traffic.  So, what can retailers do to improve their mobile offering?

  1. UX: Get back to basics

Apps are a constant work in progress, requiring ongoing testing and experimenting to make the customer experience as engaging and intuitive as possible. We know from the development of ShopAppi, our mobile shopper loyalty programme, that offering too much – and trying too hard to be ‘hip’ – isn’t what consumers want.

My advice to retailers is to get rid of anything superfluous that doesn’t enhance the business proposition or encourage conversion. We use analysis metrics on an ongoing basis to understand where the critical ‘drop off’ points are in the process.

  1. Faster is better on mobile

Speed is key. Research by Aberdeen found that a one second delay in load time equals a 7% loss in conversion. Retailers need to think about what will make the experience faster and simpler. After all, this is one of the main reasons why people choose mobile over desktop.

Firstly, don’t make signing up – or the payment process – a chore, as it will decrease conversion rates. Consumers don’t have the time (or patience) to fill out their life history.  Simple things like including ‘.com’ prompts when entering an email address, and automatic number fields when filling in card numbers, are the kind of quick wins that are easily to implement – and consumers respond well to these simple improvements. Investing in these useful, non-gimmicky functions will lead to more positive app/mobile engagement, which in turn will lead to higher transactions, ratings and brand impressions.

  1. Use mobile to personalise the in-store experience

Mobile is the bridge between the real life and digital experience – and retailers need to examine how they can leverage this, as customers move fluidly between online and offline channels. Research by Accenture found 46% of Generation Z consumers will go in-store to get more information about a product before making a purchase. For retailers with a high street presence, mobile is key for linking the online and offline experience, using go-targeting marketing tactics such as highlighting in-store promotions to drive footfall.

Waitrose is a good example of a retailer integrating mobile into the in-store experience. grocer has just announced the development of its QuickCheck app, which allows consumers to scan items using their smartphone cameras. This replaces the traditional handheld scanners, making the shopping experience more seamless for customers. The benefit for Waitrose is it can collect shopping data to use for targeted online marketing, such as offering recipes and menus, or deliver special offers.

  1. Learn from the best

ASOS is a leading force when it comes to mobile – it was voted the most popular retail app in the UK by customers in a survey by ARC. And 70% of the site’s traffic, and 58% of all its orders, now come from mobile. One of the reasons it’s earned this accolade is because of its excellent search function – which is soon to become even more sophisticated. Chairman Nick Beighton recently announced the retailer is experimenting with visual search technologies based on screenshots and social media pictures, as well as photographs. Its loyalty programme also rewards consumers with a £5 voucher for every £100 spent – an incentive for consumers to return.

With its millennial focus, ASOS was quick to recognise the power of social media as a place to drive brand engagement and inspire purchases. Its social strategy is paying off – earlier this year it announced it has seen a 25% increase in its global audience during the six-month period to 21.3 million followers.  Social media platforms are becoming part of the e-commerce journey; the Accenture study found 68% of UK shoppers aged 20 and under are interested in buying goods directly through social media channels. And there’s evidence this interest is leading to conversion – Shopify estimates Facebook has the highest conversion rate for all social media ecommerce traffic at 1.85%. Retailers should learn from ASOS’ inspiring, engaging social content which is an important step towards conversion.

  1. Understand your proposition

One of the mistakes I see retailers make is creating an app because they feel they ‘should’ have one. This isn’t enough of a reason. It needs to make sense as part of the overall business proposition. Examine your brand to understand what makes sense in terms of mobile engagement.  Innovations should add to your proposition, enhance the customer experience and increase loyalty. If your user experience is bad, word will spread quickly and the financial implications can be huge. Look at the app economy for insights and learn from the key players. M-commerce is only going to increase in the coming years, so take the time to invest in a strategy that makes sense as part of the long-term vision for the brand.

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