Leveraging Mobile to Ring in the Holiday Shopping Season
Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals may be months away, but leading retailers know that in order to win the holiday shopping season, summertime preparation is a must. Retailers have the opportunity to capitalize on strong e-commerce sales that are predicted to see double-digit growth this year, according to a recent IBM study.
However, to truly stand out this holiday shopping season, retailers need to keep one trend in mind: 'tis the season to be mobile. Today's tech-savvy consumers are increasingly reliant on their tablets and smartphones for everything they do, especially when it comes to shopping. Mobile continues to account for the lion's share of online shopping traffic, meaning it's the biggest opportunity for retailers to engage with consumers.
While it seems that nearly every holiday shopping season brings predictions of a breakout year for mobile, it's hard to ignore that mobile site traffic reached a record of 38.2 percent in March 2014, up from 25 percent last year and more than double the same period just two years ago. As a result, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark report predicts these figures to will continue to rise, with mobile accounting for more than 20 percent of sales and more than 43 percent of site traffic in November 2014.
While mobile creates tremendous opportunities for retailers to engage consumers anywhere and at any time, a poor mobile experience can turn off users and result in lost sales. Here are four tips to help you capitalize on the mobile opportunity this holiday shopping season:
1. Mobile isn't an island. The first step for retailers to ensure they're developing a smart mobile marketing strategy is to understand the interplay between mobile and other channels. Mobile should be an integral component of the overall omnichannel marketing strategy. This will help ensure you're delivering cohesive and consistent messages across all channels — and not looking at mobile in isolation.
2. Not all mobile devices are created equal. Retailers need to play close attention to their mobile experience across different device types and operating systems, then focus their investments in site optimization, mobile apps and analytics. Mobile customer experiences are difficult to master with the diversity of screen sizes across smartphones and tables, not to mention navigating the complexity of apps vs. mobile optimized websites. Therefore, retailers need to be prepared.
3. Leverage mobile analytics. Having mobile analytics data is key in helping retailers make the most of their mobile opportunities come November. Analytics not only provide retailers with the insight needed to understand their customers’ traffic patterns, but they can be leveraged qualitatively for a deeper dive into user behavior and feedback. With that knowledge, retailers can identify users’ struggles, improve site navigation and provide useful content (e.g., how-to guides) to drive visitors to purchase.
4. Personalize mobile messages. Just leveraging mobile to share content isn't enough. Consumers’ attention spans are at an all-time low and retailers struggle to engage cart abandoners. Delivering personalized, relevant and timely mobile messages is crucial to ensure you're engaging with your customers in a meaningful way and optimizing checkouts.
The competition among retailers is tough, especially during the holiday season, but differentiating yourself means more than just extended store hours. By preparing now to deliver an engaging and personalized mobile experience during the holiday shopping season, retailers will position themselves to generate loyal, high-value customers for the holidays and beyond.
Jay Henderson is the strategy director of IBM Smarter Commerce, a provider of consulting and solutions to help companies rethink value in the age of the empowered customer.