Mobile-First Retailers See Many Advantages Beyond Higher Sales Revenue
Shoppers today are empowered more than ever before and armed with a trove of information, such as product reviews, product availability and price comparisons, to inform them before they even make a purchase. For retailers, this means that the balance of information asymmetry, that used to be in their favor, has now shifted toward the consumer. And, thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, consumers can gather all this information, on demand, with a few taps of a finger.
While some retailers have found this dynamic disarming, those that embrace the new sales narrative and sales funnel stand to reap huge rewards. Mobile-enabled sales volume will reach $2.05 billion this year, according to Ovum Research. A survey we recently conducted with Sapio Research found that 65 percent of retailers said that mobile technology has increased their sales revenue, with an average of 42 percent of sales being made through mobile devices.
Mobile-First Reaps Rewards
More and more of that money is going to retailers that are mobile first — i.e., those making the mobile channel prominent in all their operations, from commerce to advertising to customer support. Yet few retailers have achieved mobile-first status, with just 14 percent of our survey respondents identifying as a mobile-first retailer, and 62 percent working to actively integrate mobile into their e-commerce strategy. That’s a huge strategy divide. Fifty-four percent of respondents admitted that they’re not fully prepared to meet consumer demands for mobile, and nearly a quarter said they're still in the early stages or have no mobile strategy at all.
Mobile Lowers Costs But Delivers Better Service
Mobile-first organizations reap financial benefits way beyond increased sales. These mobile-focused organizations said that mobile has made their businesses more efficient (62 percent) and lowered the costs of providing services to customers (33 percent). Furthermore, mobile technology has had a number of benefits on businesses relationships with customers, with three-quarters agreeing it has made them more accessible to customers, and two-thirds reporting that it provides higher customer satisfaction (66 percent).
Putting mobile devices in the hands of store associates is another way to invest in the customer experience. Mobile devices that provide sales associates with access to real-time, relevant data, such as inventory and expert knowledge to guide customers in-store, are also key in helping retailers fully realize both the revenue and efficiency potential of mobile.
Social Media for Marketing and Communicating
Mobile and social media are seemingly one in the same for many groups of consumers. With nearly 2.5 billion Facebook users, and 1 billion Instagram users, most retailers we surveyed said they use both platforms as part of their mobile sales and marketing strategies. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said that Facebook is important to their marketing and sales strategy, followed by Instagram (80 percent) and Twitter (69 percent).
Coupled with mobile, social media also presents a huge opportunity for retailers to converse with consumers. Our research found most retailers are already doing this. Of the retailers surveyed, 64 percent are communicating with customers on Instagram, and 61 percent are communicating with customers on Facebook Messenger. More than half of respondents said they communicate with customers via text messaging, and nearly half with iMessage/Messages.
Smart speakers are no longer an emerging technology in the adoption curve for retailers or consumers. eMarketer estimates that 21 million people will make at least one purchase via a smart speaker this year, and retailers are preparing to support customers on this platform. Our research found that 33 percent of retailers (75 percent of mobile-first respondents) currently support customer service on these devices, with half planning to deploy such technology this year.
Retailers are also actively integrating bots into their mobile and customer service strategies. Bots efficiently assist human agents by gathering information from customers and providing quick responses to customer service questions. Of the retailers we surveyed, 52 percent are using a combination of bots and humans to interact with consumers. Just 9 percent of respondents said they only use bots, and 39 percent rely solely on humans.
So how should retailers that aspire to be mobile-first think about mobile? Well, mobile is no longer just products researched or sales made through a smartphone. Rather, mobile is multidimensional and becoming increasingly complex — comprised of everything from product sales on apps like Instagram to customer service experiences via Siri to text messages and sales tools in the hands of in-store associates.
Mobile-first organizations see both financial benefits and more satisfied customers. Given the huge growth of mobile retail, those that are not moving toward a mobile-first strategy are leaving money on the table.
Mike Myer is CEO and founder of Quiq, a business SMS text messaging solutions provider.
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