How to Prepare for the Future of Mobile Commerce
With Cyber Monday sales hitting a record $3.39 billion during the 2016 holiday season, it’s clear online shopping is now the norm for today’s consumers. But how much of today’s online sales are due to mobile habits? A lot.
Episerver’s latest report, State of Digital Commerce, revealed that 35 percent of consumers use their smartphones to buy merchandise such as clothing, electronics and home furnishings at least once a month, and more than one in 10 do so every week. As consumers increasingly turn to their phones over desktop or in-store experiences, here are a few ways to stay on top of upcoming changes revealed by the report:
1. Focus on responsive mobile websites, not just apps.
Industry experts have touted mobile apps as a must-have for retailers over the past several years, regardless of whether they made sense for a brand’s audience. While it’s true that mobile app users tend to be the most loyal, this represents only a small portion of a retailer’s customer base. Most shoppers will never download retail apps. Instead, they would rather use a streamlined mobile website that eliminates the need to download apps for each store they might visit.
Many retailers are already catching on: 66 percent of marketers surveyed do not include mobile apps in campaigns. And a review of the top 100 U.K. e-commerce sites revealed that while 98 percent provide mobile-friendly commerce online, only 64 percent have an iPhone app.
If you choose to forego an app, ensure that your mobile site is responsive and easy to navigate. This way, mobile-first customers can make purchases as easily on desktop as they can on your mobile site. Rather than using mobile redirects, implement responsive designs, which will please customers and even improve SEO results for your brand.
2. Prioritize speed and convenience, which trumps loyalty.
Online retailers should also focus on speed and convenience to remain competitive Thanks to Amazon.com, shoppers today expect one-click ordering or even faster options like Amazon’s “Dash” button.
In fact, 37 percent of consumers surveyed flagged “speed and convenience” as a key purchase trigger. More than 40 percent of consumers will leave a site if it’s too slow to load, while 27 percent said they will move on to a competitor.
Given these expectations, retailers must eliminate friction during the checkout process. Invest in fast-loading pages with one-click ordering and include support for payment options like Apple Pay to maximize customer convenience.
3. Offer personalization enabled by AI technology.
Machine learning technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to mine useful insights can help retailers reach a level of personalization that customers crave. With this technology, retailers can predict customer behavior down to the individual, informing specific messaging and promotions that each shopper receives across all platforms — including mobile.
One-third of marketers have incorporated predictive analytics into their sales cycle, according to the report, with another 32 percent planning to incorporate this within the next two years. Almost 20 percent of marketers have implemented virtual assistants, which rely on data-driven algorithms to communicate with shoppers.
Since omnichannel personalization can increase sales significantly, online retailers need to invest in the technology that powers it. Waiting too long will only cause brands to fall behind customer expectations.
As mobile commerce shapes the way customers interact with brands, changes are happening fast. Retailers can make small changes to their mobile sites now to drive more sales in 2017 and beyond.
Ed Kennedy is the senior director of commerce at Episerver, a global company offering a CMS and an e-commerce platform.