The Importance of Mobile eCommerce

March 25, 2016

in Market Your Brand

Authored by Brad Bortone

The Importance of Mobile eCommerce

2016 will likely be the year that mobile becomes just as—if not more—important to business goals. In fact, as of 2015, mobile traffic has surpassed desktop traffic entirely. Mobile commerce now represents 34% of global eCommerce transactions—a figure that is expected to rise to 47% in just the next few years.

Whatever strategy is appropriate for your business, you need to know your customers are engaging on the go, at a rapidly increasing rate. And these users aren’t just searching on their mobile devices; they’re also engaging with ads. As of 2015, mobile CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) are now 34% higher than on desktop.

In turn, U.S. mobile eCommerce surpassed $104 billion in 2015, up nearly 39% from the previous year. So how can retailers (large and small) capitalize on this mobile buying traffic?

Mobile commerce now represents 34% of global eCommerce transactions.

Addressing the rise of mobile (and the decline of desktop)

Before we dive into why you need to implement mobile strategies post-haste, we should first understand the consumer reasoning behind such a rise, to better understand how to leverage it. It’s hardly a revelation to say consumers are on their phones all the time. This doesn’t require research—just look at the people around you in the office, on the street, or even (not recommended) in their cars.

According to eMarketer, the average U.S. adult spent just under three hours per day on a mobile phone. This is three times the total from 2011. Not coincidentally, the reverse happened with time spent on computers, which declined to just over two hours a day in 2015.

This data is indicative of the global efforts to mobilize and connect the entire world, most notably in developing countries where mobile use far outweighs PC use. The future is clear: Portable, affordable mobile devices are how people interact with brands today.

Mobile eCommerce and showrooming

After researching some results of Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2015, we found—unsurprisingly—that brick-and-mortar retail continues to drop, year over year, and so does the trend of “showrooming,” that is—visiting a physical store to preview a product before purchasing. This is, in part, because dedicated eCommerce outlets employed hybrid strategies to maximize on mobile commerce; in addition to their high-performing mobile apps, eCommerce outlets also optimized their mobile storefronts to perform better for customers.

Increasingly, consumers use multiple devices, apps and websites from different locations at different times of the day to do their mobile shopping—leaving retailers an unclear view of customers and their buying behaviors. As a result, they miss sales opportunities because they are unable to recognize and influence consumers on their path-to-purchase journeys.

Today, brick and mortar retailers are seeing the benefits of integrating and unifying online and offline strategies that improve the shopping experience of the user on mobile. One hybrid tactic that performed extremely well came in the form of mobile-exclusive discounts to be redeemed in store, and the growth of online purchase/in-store pickup opportunities.

With consumers researching in-store products on mobile devices more thoroughly (82% of smartphone users, according to Google), retailers are being pushed to create feature-heavy apps and mobile-optimized sites that allow users to instantly check for available stock levels, price comparisons, customer reviews, and more.

(Remember, mobile shoppers tend to be more tech-savvy and knowledgeable than standard eCommerce customers, so make sure your mobile properties reflect the features and functionalities your audience demands.)

While showrooming is popular among adults who typically shop in brick and mortar locations, millennials much prefer webrooming—the comparison of items between e-retailers—as illustrated in a 2014 Harris Poll. While it’s unlikely this trend will reverse any time soon, it does reinforce the need to better unify in-store and online shopping experiences.

It’s time to optimize your mobile eCommerce storefront

You can’t just slap a mobile-friendly web template on your site and consider your online presence optimized. Simply reformatting an existing site for mobile screens doesn’t account for the specific needs and behaviors of mobile-first shoppers.

Depending on your business and vertical, some implementations will require a more significant investment, whether it be through money, resources, or time. It’s crucial to weigh the costs and benefits carefully before deciding how to best attack a mobile strategy.

That said, some scalable best practices for leaping into mobile eCommerce include:

Make it easy to convert: The eCommerce mobile shopper is not only looking to browse products on mobile apps and purchase them on the main eCommerce retail portal. New mobile payment options like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are regularly being implemented to make mobile transactions as easy as possible.

Be human (and make your customers feel the same): People still buy from people. 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. Users want personalized, easily navigable shopping experiences to find trusted products suited to their needs. The last thing the shopper wants, especially on their mobile device, is having to scroll through a pile of unrelated content or irrelevant products.

Instead, ensure your mobile apps and sites allow customers to define the simplest buyer journey. Remind them of previously viewed items, show commonly purchased items in similar categories, and create incentive to buy through mobile-exclusive opportunities.

Bring customers to you: Customers are looking for a reason to engage. Even if you run a well-established brick and mortar location, most customers will find you via mobile device. Be sure your site and/or app offers a clear ability to search for your closest location. This is especially effective for larger or higher-priced items such as televisions, computers, and even furniture.

And remember, engagement can’t end at the moment a sale is made. Brands that successfully engage buyers after a sale create new lines of dialogue that can convert one time buyers into repeat customers.

For marketers and retailers, embracing the mobile movement can drive more customers and revenue. Tailoring mobile campaigns helps to reach users with the right messaging at the right time, and crafting a mobile eCommerce strategy to suit the needs of your business and customers will help strengthen your brand and increase visibility.

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