Today, more than half of all searches take place on a mobile phone, and nearly one in four consumers does research on a mobile device while shopping in-store. Consumer expectations for mobile commerce and even social media commerce (which largely takes place on mobile phones) also are accelerating, hence the need for a mobile-first mindset.
In addition to facilitating the final purchase, retailers such as Vineyard Vines, Forbidden Planet, Benetton and True Religion use mobile devices to streamline the checkout process, motivate sales associates and improve clienteling.
Brands have numerous opportunities to engage with consumers through mobile devices and apps because:
- The average smartphone user checks his or her phone 85 times a day;
- More than 50% of searches happen on mobile devices; and
- 23% of consumers shopping in stores also are conducting research on their mobile device, according to Salesforce.
Read on to learn how retailers can successfully implement a mobile-first strategy, drive sales in a mobile environment and leverage mobile devices and apps to improve internal operations.
Create A Tailored Mobile Experience
With a mobile-first mindset, retailers have the opportunity to personalize customer experiences through social media, ads and mobile apps. Khurrum Malik, Facebook’s Product Marketing Leader, presented a keynote during ChannelAdvisor’s Catalyst 2017 event in Nashville, Tenn. on March 7, 2017, and shared six recommendations for turbocharging sales in the mobile environment:
- Minimize friction in the path to purchase: 40% of consumers abandon web sites in seconds and say it’s difficult to compare products on mobile. Since conversions on mobile are low, retailers need to minimize this friction with immersive ad formats that draw consumers in and entice them to discover new products or services. Both Facebook and Instagram offer immersive advertising capabilities to capture consumers as they scroll through their social media feeds.
- Adapt offers and promotions to mobile: 90%+ of shoppers have used an offer in the past three months, but only 2.5% of these were digital. Malik said retailers can create ads on Facebook that provide users with the option to save coupon codes in a “offers” folder. Facebook then sends reminders when the user hasn’t redeemed the coupon code.
- Market to people, not devices: It’s critical to recognize the consumers’ journey because they are typically using multiple devicess and channels to discover and buy. One of the things that’s critical in this mobile-first world is the ability to apply multi-touch attribution — not only last-click attribution — because retailers can easily miss out on investments being made in other channels.
- Provide locally relevant content: With Facebook Dynamic Ads, if a user browses something on a web site on a desktop, a retailer can retarget them with the same exact product right within Facebook or Instagram, taking advantage of their high intention to buy.
- Invest in apps to boost customer lifetime value: People who shop on apps spend more money than mobile and desktop buyers, but mobile apps are not for everyone. “There are more than 4.2 billion apps, so you’re competing for attention,” said Malik.
- Measure cross-device everything: People who buy a retailer’s products are not necessarily the same people who click on ads. Last-click attribution can inaccurately display value, so retailers should focus on: people-based measurement; how consumers are driven to the store after seeing a campaign; and offline conversions.
“Consumers want a (social media) feed that’s a tailored magazine just for them,” said Malik. “This creates opportunity for brands to connect with consumers with a curated message. Three-fourths of Millennials take action after being inspired on mobile devices, but discovery works across all demographics.”
Mobile Enhances Associate Efficiency
Mobile is not only changing the way consumers shop; it’s also enhancing the capabilities of the retail workforce. Retailers such as True Religion, Forbidden Planet and Benetton, for example, are creating custom internal mobile apps for employees that:
- Enable employees to do their jobs more efficiently;
- Speed up the in-store checkout process with mobile POS;
- Better spot online purchasing trends; and
- Monitor inventory.
Forbidden Planet, a comic book retailer, built its own app for the iPad to help with inventory management. The same app is used by sales reps on the floor and workers in its warehouses, which allows both teams to work together more effectively to serve customers. Benetton also created an iPad app, to help sales associates look up inventory and suggest similar items in cases where the products customers want are sold out.
True Religion went one step further, equipping its store associates with an Apple Watch that they can use to access inventory data and enter shopper information in order to match a customer with the perfect pair of jeans. Associates can also use the watch to cast images on a large digital screen in the store to display different styles to the customer. Thanks to the information collected by sales associates through the watch, True Religion was able to create highly personalized experiences, provide relevant product recommendations and better overall service.
“[With internal apps], employees are more motivated because they feel like they can get their jobs done more efficiently,” said Ann Monroe, VP of Worldwide Marketing at FileMaker, an Apple subsidiary that creates and runs custom apps. “Plus, it’s cool because it’s on an iPad. We see that a lot when companies apply mobile technology to internal projects.”
Retailers also are using mobile devices for POS functions, which allows the sales associate to be more present in the store, according to Rick Kenney, Head of Consumer Insights at Salesforce Commerce Cloud. “Gone are the days where it’s OK for the sales associate to be stuck behind a counter.” Vineyard Vines, for example, leveraged mobile POS capabilities from Salesforce Commerce Cloud during the holiday season. With longer lines during the holidays, the retailer put the mobile POS in the hands of sales associates, which allowed them to engage with customers one-on-one and speed up the checkout process at the same time.
Mobile phones have come a long way since the days of the Motorola Razr, which in turn has changed the retail game entirely. Mobile commerce is here to stay. Retailers that are not leveraging mobile capabilities to drive their omnichannel strategies and connect with consumers in-store and online could potentially be missing out on sales opportunities. But with a mobile-first mindset come new challenges.
“One of the key issues of mobile is around organization, structure and ownership,” said Hamory. “Many traditional retailers attempted to respond to the online threat by creating separate e-Commerce organizations, often with completely separate merchandising/ buying and marketing organizations. It’s critical that retailers avoid falling into a similar trap with mobile (whether in commerce or experience).
“Retailers should think about mobile as a complement to a holistic customer proposition — that is, a mobile strategy should not be just about mobile,” he added. “It should comprehend how to drive traffic in stores or to e-Commerce, and how to increase overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.”