Reaching, Engaging and Converting Mobile-First Consumers
As consumer preferences shift from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce channels across devices, retailers are adapting their omnichannel strategies to be more focused, personalized and data informed.
It wasn’t that long ago that parents everywhere were racing all over town to find the best deals on back-to-school clothes from all their favorite stores. While the in-store experience is alive and well, today’s retailers are challenged more than ever to master the complex omnichannel customer journey. Many shoppers are just as likely to research and purchase on desktop devices, mobile devices and in apps as they are to visit physical retail locations. It's imperative that retailers understand this entire customer journey — and the data it creates — to convert interest into sales. In today’s “always on” world where consumers are constantly on the go, convenience and speed have become critical factors in the shopping experience, and mobile has emerged as the ultimate channel to reach shoppers.
According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, it’s anticipated that smartphone circulation will hit 6.1 billion globally by 2020. From music and entertainment to navigation, ridesharing and food delivery, smartphones have become the dominant and essential tool supporting us throughout the day. Retailers around the world are thus more focused than ever on developing the right strategies to reach the mobile-first consumer. Here are three key considerations to keep in mind:
- Your optimized e-commerce site isn't enough. Over the last several years, retailers have debated whether they should focus their technical resources on optimizing e-commerce websites for mobile devices or on building and maintaining mobile apps for Android and iOS. The answer shouldn’t be one or the other; the answer is both. A recent study shows that when retailers prioritize app optimization in addition to mobile web, the performance gains are substantial. Furthermore, the transition to in-app commerce continues unabated: retailers are seeing a 50 percent increase in year-over-year in-app transactions, driven in part by the fact that app users sport conversion rates over three times as high as mobile web users. The subset of retailers in North America that have embraced the app as a sales channel are now generating 67 percent of all commerce sales on mobile devices, with in-app purchases accounting for 66 percent of those mobile transactions. For retailers that have funneled their energy into an optimized e-commerce site, there’s an immense opportunity to enhance the shopper experience and grow sales by making their apps best-in-class.
- Users’ lifestyles drive effective marketing timing. Consumers mobile and desktop usage is highly individualized and often dictated by their daily routines. During traditional working hours, for example, desktop usage dominates; on nights and weekends, consumers switch over to mobile devices. However, overall averages can be misleading as each user will find a pattern of usage specific to his or her lifestyle. Retailers can benefit from understanding multidevice usage by day and hour at the user level, and thus deliver the right types of advertising at the right time. User-level engagement tactics — e.g., email campaigns, display ads, on-site sponsored ads, push notifications, in-app discounts — drive connections with consumers on the devices they will most likely be using at that point in time. Seasonality also plays a role. The increase in mobile activity in the summer months would be a prime time for mobile-oriented merchants (e.g., fashion and beauty retailers) to focus their attention on the mobile shopper.
- Cross-channel, cross-device users deserve love. For retailers, the study mentioned above demonstrates that understanding shopper intent data from all possible channels unlocks the ability to capture more dollars per customer. Shoppers whose online and in-store activity can be linked as “omnishopping,” for example, demonstrate average order values (AOVs) that are 17 percent higher than single-channel shoppers. These elevated omnishopper AOVs are most prevalent in the fashion/luxury, health/beauty and high-tech verticals. For example, if a specific user is searching for information about kids’ bicycles and reading reviews of those bicycles while on a desktop computer, delivering a push notification or in-app discount to that user on his or her smartphone can move them down the purchase funnel and increase conversion likelihood. In turn, the data generated across the cross-device purchase journey can be used to fuel higher customer lifetime value. Retailers’ marketing should align with this cross-device world, as Criteo data has found that 26 percent of sales on desktop devices were preceded by clicks on mobile devices.
It's no secret that mobile channels are a key driver of e-commerce sales growth, but it’s important to integrate mobile as part of an overall omnichannel strategy. Mobile not only drives direct sales, but now often serves as a touchpoint in the journeys that culminate with either a transaction on a desktop device or a visit to a retail store. Conversely, consumers may extend a retailer’s or brand’s in-store presence by using mobile devices to summon additional product information, search off-site inventory, or access discounts and coupons. Over the long term, Criteo research shows that omnishoppers generate the highest lifetime value and already account for a 27 percent (and growing) share of sales.
Consumers’ appetite for all things mobile won’t subside anytime soon. For retailers, this means that tracking the winding path to purchase, understanding the nuances and behaviors of individual consumers, and optimizing across the right channels — especially mobile — is increasingly critical for reaching and engaging shoppers, driving sales and building loyalty.
Jaysen Gillespie is vice president, head of analytics and data science, Criteo, a commerce marketing ecosystem that helps retailers acquire, convert and re-engage shoppers along every step in the path to purchase.
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