How to Get Mobile Commerce Right
Mobile commerce-enabled devices in the hands of this many consumers is a very exciting prospect. It speaks to the very core of direct marketing — go where your customers are rather than waiting for them to come to you. M-commerce will truly enable consumers to purchase anytime and anywhere, from the commuter train to the pool to the game and everywhere else on the go.
But getting mobile commerce right is more difficult than just pushing out your web content and shopping experience to a connected device. The challenge starts with the smaller screen, but it doesn't end there.
Consumer Behavior and Expectations
Think about it: The consumer is on the go and most often with a limited keyboard. Consumers want an expedited shopping experience. Solutions like stored credentials and account information become crucial to consumers’ overall buying experience. Marketers must be more sensitive to the number of steps and the amount of necessary information that needs to be captured during the checkout process on a mobile device.
Smaller Screen Size
We've all experienced a poor user experience while accessing web content on a mobile device, most often in the form of having to scroll left and right and up and down to fully view a page, image or even text. Obviously the smaller screen size presents a challenge to marketers. Combine this with changing consumer behaviors and expectations and you'll find that not getting the format right can dramatically interfere with a successful launch of a m-commerce initiative.
Part of the solution is device detection and designing web content for an optimized mobile experience. Most of the best web content management systems can perform device detection and have tools that allow marketers and designers to build pages perfectly optimized for the screen size of each device.
When planning the optimal m-commerce experience, it's important to keep a few things in mind. First, m-commerce lends itself to less complicated, higher impulse products. Solution selling with highly structured, complicated products is less suited to the mobile environment.
Often the best option for complex products is to dangle some teaser copy and images to direct the user to another channel, such as a phone call to a sales representative or a short lead-generation form for follow up in an alternative channel like email.
Second, recognize the fact that cross-selling and upselling are more difficult on mobile devices. At times it's downright disruptive to closing a sale on a mobile device. When compared to a laptop, the mobile experience just doesn't accommodate accessorizing as well.
The Dedicated App vs. Browser
Many merchants wonder if a dedicated, branded app distributed through an app marketplace can have a significant impact on the m-commerce experience. Apps are generally designed with a built-in browser that allows the user to browse and shop from an online merchant without accessing the device's native browser or a third-party browser. In addition, they also often come with other useful functionality that can enhance the user experience — e.g., account information or perhaps a locker of previous purchases in the digital content space.
A dedicated app also generally eliminates the need to execute standard device detection. Finally, having a dedicated app on the homepage of a user's mobile device is a great marketing opportunity to keep your brand top of mind at all times. Due to app proliferation, however, standing out amongst the clutter is getting harder and harder.
Geolocation has become an important feature in improving many online user experiences. For example, search engines include local content on search results pages. In addition, you've likely seen internet service providers and content providers incorporate targeted local news, weather and sports on content pages.
Merchants are using geolocation to improve the online shopping experience. In the same way, brands thinking about m-commerce should definitely include geotargeting in their mobile user experience.
Most mobile operating systems enable a dedicated app through APIs or the native browser through HTML5 to access the GPS of the mobile device. Through this functionality merchants can provide value-added information such as best-sellers in the consumer's area, the location of the nearest store and even targeted merchandising. For example, merchandising outerwear on the homepages of users located in northern climates in the winter. In some instances, this more precise location detection can create an even better user experience than geotargeting through IP address detection on a laptop in the home or office.
Marketers are beginning to optimize their promotional emails for the smaller screen of mobile devices. Marketers should be tracking customers’ online shopping channel preferences, optimizing follow-up communications for the highest frequency channel.
Another approach is to optimize each individual follow-up communication based on the channel of the related purchase. This way mobile buyers would get confirmation and bounceback emails optimized for their mobile device. Another best practice is to include a "view online" link. Marketers can then code the email web page in a way that's fully optimized for laptop and mobile device viewing.
M-commerce presents exciting new possibilities for marketers as tablet and smartphone adoption is growing too quickly to ignore. That said, marketers need to be realistic about how quickly their mobile commerce sales will build. Certain categories, including less complex and higher impulse products, are more amenable to the mobile shopping experience. But regardless of product category, all marketers can improve their results by paying attention to both the limitations and expanded opportunities of selling via mobile devices.