Mobile Commerce: 5 Ways Your Company Can Improve
Are you making it easy enough for your customers to shop using their mobile devices? Columnist Aaron Strout offers some ways to boost consumers' mobile experience.
The four days after Thanksgiving in the US — Black Friday through Cyber Monday — have become the Super Bowl of retail over the last several years.
As such, those four precious days not only serve as a bellwether of the country’s economic health, but more recently, they’re a proxy for the ever-increasing volume of retail sales that now take place through mobile channels.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that in 2015, mobile traffic and shopping were both at an all-time high, even though overall sales dipped a bit this year from last year.
According to IBM Commerce’s annual Black Friday report (disclosure: IBM is a customer of my company, WCG), online consumers using their mobile devices accounted for 57.2 percent of all online traffic — a 15.2-percent year-over-year jump. Mobile sales were also strong, with 36.2 percent of all online sales coming via mobile — a nearly 30-percent increase over 2014.
One of the most interesting trends during this Black Friday was the fact that the average online sale per shopper using a tablet was $136.42, exceeding that of the average online desktop shopper by $2.38. Not surprisingly, the average online smartphone shopper spent about $15 less per person, but that still represented a four-percent increase over 2014.
And while smartphones were third behind tablets and PCs when it came to online sales, they were responsible for 44.7 percent of all online traffic, three-and-a-half times that of tablets.
Because this trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon, it behooves marketers to take a long, hard look at how their customers are experiencing all facets of their business via their mobile devices.
Clearly, making it as easy as possible to buy via mobile is a good first step, but, given the data above showing smartphones driving significant traffic during Black Friday, there are other things that you could and should be doing.
Five Ways To Improve Your Customers’ Mobile Experience
Here are five areas your company can explore to help improve your customers’ mobile experience while, ideally, improving the bottom line:
1. Two of the major barriers that keep people from shopping online are security and the aggravation of having to type credit card details into one’s device during every checkout. One way to mitigate this is to tap into mobile payment technologies like ApplePay, PayPal, Google Wallet or Visa Checkout (disclosure: client).
In all cases, customers log their credit card and shipping information into an application or mobile site one time and then only have to provide a name and password in subsequent sessions. Many of these mobile payments providers keep data more secure than what occurs when people type credit card information into a mobile device, as the data is encrypted, and card numbers are kept away from potentially watchful eyes.
2. While this should seem obvious to everyone, marketers should be shopping their own site via a few different mobile devices monthly. Even if a company’s website or mobile app haven’t changed, devices and their mobile operating systems do.
Sometimes, the simplest of changes can break the user experience and thus cost thousands, if not millions, in lost revenue. Build this process into your monthly routine, even if you have to set a reminder on your calendar.
3. Work with the digital/web team to look at the company’s web logs. (Most companies use tools like Google Analytics or Webtrends.)
It’s critical to know which pages mobile customers are reaching (or not reaching) when they visit you via a smartphone or tablet. By the way, if you aren’t already doing this regularly for all web visitors and adjusting the user experience and content accordingly, it’s time to start.
4. Use location-based technologies to assist shoppers who are using their mobile device as they shop brick-and-mortar retailers. This can be anything from making your site optimized for local search all the way through to Bluetooth Low-Energy (also called BLE or Bluetooth Smart) beacons.
Because customers expect search to be as relevant as possible, the more one can do to enhance this experience, the better. And increasingly, relevant in-store experiences can differentiate shopping experiences among retailers.
5. Consider testing social commerce plays like the partnership Domino’s struck with Twitter. While the idea of “social commerce” is still one that is slowly evolving, there are certain places within social sites where giving customers the opportunity to click or tweet to buy can make it easier for those who feel comfortable doing so.
Pinterest has clearly paved the way in this space, as many retailers realize that combining the three elements of visually appealing pictures, social experiences and “click to buy” can make for a “sticky” and repeat-worthy experience.
These are just a few of the ways marketers can maximize their customers’ experiences. As I’ve written before, it’s important to treat one’s customers holistically. This means mapping out their entire journey and leveraging each channel to its fullest.
Mobile will likely play a role in many aspects of the shopper’s journey — research, cost comparison, reviews all the way through to purchase — so understanding how it best fits in with different customer segments is key.
And one last reminder: Don’t assume that what works on a smartphone works on a tablet, just as you wouldn’t assume that what works on a laptop or desktop works for a smartphone.
Are you making it easy for your customers to buy via their mobile devices? If you aren’t, don’t you think it’s time to get started?