How to Leverage Mobile Devices to Increase Sales
It’s no revelation that mobile commerce is a trend on the rise in the U.S., with Forester Research forecasting that we will see $90 billion spent via mobile payments this year. That's an increase of $17 billion since last year and represents a 48 percent rise over the $12.8 billion spent in 2012.
This upswing is fueled by a mass appetite for smartphones, with almost two-thirds (63.5 percent) of the U.S. population set to own one in 2017. It's further compounded by a society where the shopping aim is to seek, find and easily acquire, courtesy of a wealth of information at their Googling fingertips.
For retailers, it begs the all-important question: How best can mobile devices be leveraged to increase sales and improve the bottom line? Here are five suggestions to do just that.
After years languishing in the futuristic basket, the digital wallet is finally coming into its own, representing a major boon for e-commerce. Gartner forecasts that in 2017, U.S. consumers’ mobile engagement behavior will push mobile commerce up to 50 percent of U.S. digital commerce revenue, largely driven by the belated adoption of digital wallet technology.
In 2016, almost $30 million worth of transactions were completed in the U.S. courtesy of digital wallets and mobile payments. That was three times the value of 2015, but a meager drop in the estimated ocean of what's expected to occur by 2020, when mobile transactions will reach $266 million annually.
While the digital wallet may soon be more prevalent, for retailers it comes down to accessing this payment type. The U.S. has traditionally lagged on this front, but that too is about to change courtesy of the EMV liability shift and mobile point of sale (POS).
In order to read data from the digital wallet, retailers require EMV card reading capability rather than old-school magnetic stripe or swipe readers.
In October 2015, the U.S. followed other countries implementing a formal migration from magnetic stripe cards to chip and pin through an EMV liability shift. Basically this meant any financial institution or merchant not using chip technology would be liable for the cost of counterfeit card transactions.
The result has been a huge uptake in EMV card reader technology, with locations quadrupling from 301,000 in August 2015 to 1.3 million in June 2016. And the figures are only set to increase. Statista forecasts full adoption of EMV compatible POS terminals will take until 2020.
Regardless of whether consumers are in-store, shopping online or being targeted directly via emails and promotional SMS, they now expect a seamless experience from retailers — and it's not just about a mobile-optimized website.
Increasingly, prospective shoppers expect to be engaged in the omnichannel environment, with their mobile phone the key to accessing the latest information, promotions or social media commentary about products and making a purchase.
James Van Arsdale III, director of user experience for commerce solutions provider WebLinc, told Business News Daily that an optimized customer experience across all channels was imperative to driving m-commerce success.
"Customers want the same content, delivered to them on whatever device they want, so they don't have to waste time searching. It's all about tailoring the interface and content to easily allow customers to find what they're looking for," he explained.
And that may include tailoring specifically for different markets, with Van Arsdale further noting among younger demographics, SMS alerts convert more sales than emails do.
Part of the omnichannel experience is the successful use of mobile apps, with The Wall Street Journal explaining while shopping on the small screen used to be a pain, retailers are becoming better at their delivery.
"As consumers spend more of their days glued to smartphones, retailers are getting savvier with apps that ease browsing, offer rewards, suggest the right products and simplify the purchase to one click," noted the WSJ report.
"The retailers that are succeeding are training their customers to think of their smartphones like an all-day impulse aisle. Apps are able to capture data available from handsets and push consumers to buy when they have a spare moment."
It's not just in the comfort of their own home or while enjoying their morning coffee that shoppers are seeing retail infiltrate their mobile devices.
The increasing prevalence of beacons within brick-and-mortar stores is providing the unique opportunity for retailers to target shoppers directly with personalized messages on their smartphones or well-positioned tablet kiosks within or just outside their premises.
According to Forbes, the beacon industry is currently exploding, jumping from $4 billion generated sales in 2015 to an estimated $44 billion in 2016.
This mass growth has been driven by big-name retailers like Target, Macy's, Timberland and Saks.
Late last year, mobile presence management vendor Swirl analyzed data from more than 1 million in-store and near-store beacon interactions at thousands of store locations.
According to Street Fight Magazine, one specialty retailer Swirl tracked saw a 41 percent increase in average basket size and a 36 percent increase in its mall-to-store traffic conversion rate, while a different specialty apparel retailer saw a 13 percent increase in its mall-to-store traffic conversion rate.
The Final Word
An estimated 220 million Americans will have a smartphone in their hands by the end of this year. That means it's imperative for retailers to enable consumers to seek information, receive marketing and make payments via their mobile devices. And it won't just come down to one simple strategy; it will take a multifaceted approach to lure the mobile-savvy shopper.
Rebecca Kennedy is a contributor to ReadWrite.com, Business Insider, and Cvent.com.