Cover Story: Retail Mobile Strategies for the Holiday Season
Holiday 2014 is right around the corner, and it's going to be mobile. For the first time ever, according to Branding Brand's Mobile Commerce Index, the majority of online retail visitors will come from smartphones and tablets, not desktops.
This historic shift requires retailers to prepare for the holidays with a mobile audience in mind. This means not just focusing on initiatives to enhance mobile customer conversion, but also considering use cases that create in-store visitor opportunities, such as updating listings on mobile websites, apps and Google to accurately display extended store hours. According to L2, mobile will influence $750 billion of in-store sales by 2017. Furthermore, although it may seem obvious, failing to coordinate mobile-listed hours of operation was a costly miss for many retailers last holiday season.
Along with the rise of the mobile majority, retailers must keep their eyes on another key event on the horizon: Apple's release of iOS 8 and its anticipated new iPhone sizes. Every day, more devices, operating systems and browsers enter the marketplace. This fall will be no exception. Mobile isn't just growing, it's becoming increasingly complex. New screen sizes mean changes in optimum button placements, layouts and what's shown "above the fold." New versions of software mean compatibility updates and app fixes.
Apple's upcoming releases will impact retail's most influential mobile users. As of June 2014, iOS devices were responsible for 62 percent of visits and 67 percent of revenue from smartphones. Based on past adoption trends of Apple's newly released operating systems, the majority of holiday traffic will come from users running iOS 8, which is set to become publicly available in the fall. (Note: beta versions of iOS 8 are currently available for developer download.) To ensure a smooth transition, retailers should start testing their mobile experience on iOS 8 now.
The most successful retailers this holiday season will be those which take the time to understand their audience and prepare for changes on the horizon. Mobile is evolving, and consumers expect retailers to do the same.