Here’s a newsflash: phones are ingrained in our every waking moment, and have created a swift and seismic disruption in the interaction between retailers and consumers. This much we know. What is less understood is how retailers should react to and adapt to these changes.
The soon-to-be-released Demandware Mobile Shopping Focus Report provides a comprehensive guide that captures everything you need to know. As an Industry Principal within Demandware’s Retail Practice, I am involved in numerous discussions with our global client base on how to transform these insights into actionable steps. I’d like to share a few thoughts on this:
Think in simple use cases. Don’t start with a huge, overwhelming mobile transformation project that maps all your existing digital services into the mobile channel. Start slow, take it step-by-step and investigate how your target audience might interact with you via mobile devices. Then, build services tightly around these. Typical consumer use cases are:
Consumers on the go: Leverage geo-signals; be present in “near me” searches; curate your information on Google Maps; make sure your store finders are mobile-optimized.
Consumers want to know: Enhance your sites attributes for Google result pages; make sure your current campaigns (online and offline) are present on mobile landing pages; ensure high quality onsite search.
Consumers want to buy: Invest in paid media to drive shoppers to your mobile site; optimized easy checkout and payment options to ensure conversion
Users don’t think in devices. They think in brands and interactions. Identify the context-based use cases for your audience, and support them rigorously. Be acutely aware that most shopping journeys are cross-device, and that the phone does not always represent the end point.
Go faster. It’s no secret that technology, and mobile in particular, has conditioned us to expect instant results. In fact, 64% of phone users expect a mobile site to load in four seconds or less, and 40% have abandoned a slow-loading site for a faster mobile experience.
Responsive design helps to make classic desktop sites accessible on a mobile browser, but does not reflect the limited bandwidth and processing power of the device. Point your developers and system integrators towards concepts like RESS, Lazy Loading and adaptive JPEG compression. These approaches allow you to operate one single, responsive site under one domain, but with smooth user experience for consumers on the go.
Planet of the apps. Consumers spend 90% of their mobile time in apps. At a certain point you need to think about an app for your most loyal customers. But – and this point cannot be stressed strongly enough – beware of feature-creep. Some of the most trafficked mobile apps; Uber, Tinder and Snapchat have one thing in common: They are clean, simple and addicting because they focus on one thing and do it very well. Retailers should emulate this approach, bearing in mind the short attention spans, limited user patience and small screens that define the mobile world. In the end, convenience is what creates a sale. That’s why we all end up buying from Amazon. And this is the role your app will play in your mobile strategy. As a rule of thumb, you can calculate that 20% of your mobile traffic and 50% of mobile revenue get shifted into an app after launch.
Look at apps beyond your own. It’s clear that mobile apps are important, but use is consolidating around just a handful. Indeed, the five most popular apps account for 86% of a mobile user’s device interactions. So don’t fight it. Your app, however great it is, will never have the reach of Instagram, Facebook Messenger or WeChat, so you may as well meet your customers there. There are interesting ways to integrate your brand and commerce goals into social apps. Case in point: the Chinese consumer who, in an effort to demonstrate the broad utility of WeChat, committed to using that one app – and nothing else – for 24 hours. Western messaging apps are not as sophisticated yet, but considering its reach, you should consider leveraging WhatsApp for your brand communication. Vendors like WhatsBroadcast, which exist solely to send newsletters and other information via WhatsApp, can support you with this. And there are also interesting use cases how to use Facebook messenger for business. Don’t worry about driving traffic away from your site to an app. A sale is a sale, right?
Here’s the hard truth: mobile shopping behavior is evolving faster than your ability to keep up. But it’s ok. You don’t have to do everything at once, and you don’t have to overhaul your entire digital commerce strategy to accommodate your mobile consumers. My experience in working with some of the world’s biggest retailers has convinced me that if you optimize some important basic tenets, you will satisfy the masses.
Then go from there, one step at a time.