While new and exciting technologies like the Internet of Things, augmented reality and voice assistants dominate retail conversations, a key area that many retailers miss the mark on is also one that has proven far more impactful for today’s shoppers: the mobile channel. Over the years, shoppers have continued to opt for the convenience, speed, personalization and ease of their mobile devices over in-store visits and purchases, but what exactly does this shift in shopper behavior mean forretailers?
According to eMarketer's recent report on "Worldwide Retail and Ecommerce Sales: eMarketer's Updated Forecast and New Mcommerce Estimates for 2016-2021," mobile commerce sales are projected to represent nearly 73% of e-Commerce sales — meaning retailers who neglect to build upon and optimize their mobile strategies will fail to reach a key growing audience.
Why A Mobile-First Strategy Should Continue To Be Your Top Priority
A key growth driver behind mobile-first marketing lies in the fact that today’s shoppers are ‘always on’ and tethered to their mobile screens. Nowadays, when shoppers are interested in engaging with a retail brand, retailers need to be prepared to provide an easy-to-use and responsive mobile shopping experience. From a competitive standpoint, if retailers are unable to provide a satisfying mobile experience for their customers, the ease of modern mobile shopping means that these shoppers can (and will!) start to look elsewhere.
As mobile continues to dominate the e-Commerce landscape, it will also be especially important for retailers to expand beyond traditional mobile engagements and consider how they can use their mobile efforts to build an ongoing, long-term connection with shoppers using digital channels. An “online” store enables customers to engage with the brand whenever they are in front of their computer or on a smartphone, but today’s increasingly competitive landscape means that these experiences also will need to evolve in order to stay ahead of rival retailers.
The risks faced by retailers that neglect mobile strategies lies in the fact that mobile continues to hold great importance within a retailer’s overall cross-channel strategy. The emphasis should be on a cross-channel, orchestrated and consistent experience, from in-store, online and via mobile, that creates a stronger relationship between your customers and your brand. Mobile is a very important component of that strategy and its importance will continue to grow as more mobile sales take place on smartphones rather than in-store.
Mobile devices make it convenient to engage with a brand. And you, as a marketer, need to be able to respond to your customer’s actions — when they are ready to engage, you need to be there. Without that, you make it harder for your customers to engage and subsequently lose an important connection with your mobile shoppers.
Kickstart Your Mobile-First Strategy: Tips And Tricks For The Holiday Season
A successful mobile-first strategy will ensure that a shopper’s overall experience is consistent and seamless as they move between devices and platforms. Not quite sure where to start with your mobile-first marketing strategy? Here are five tips and considerations to keep in mind as you head into the holiday season:
- Tip 1: Use mobile to build relationships. Focus on using mobile channels to build and maintain a relationship with your customer, in addition to presenting your customers with basic content and promotions. Your customers are being targeted by many different brands, so give them a reason to come back!
- Tip 2: Don’t forget about other channels. Your customers still read emails and they also are often heavy social media users. Make sure you have strategies in place to reach your customers with a unified message across these and other channels.
- Tip 3: Be consistent. Your customers are interacting with your brand on mobile not just from a marketing perspective, but also from a customer support angle. As a brand, you not only need to have consistent messaging across channels, but also across platforms. What happens in the marketing platform should be ‘knowable’ in the organization’s support platform and vice versa.
- Tip 4: Leverage send time optimization to avoid getting lost in the holiday season shuffle. Your customers typically receive more emails over the holiday season, and since the majority of emails are read on mobile devices, it is important that your message can stand out from the crowd. Features like send time optimization will send the email to each individual based on the optimal time using data analytics. You can meet the customer at the top of the inbox, giving you a better chance that they see your message.
- Tip 5: Use retargeting to help re-engage your users, especially since many are now using their mobile device to browse shopping channels. Marketers might want to consider retargeting their customers by sending content based on browsing behavior on mobile devices. But to be effective at this, the retargeting message should be sent in hours, not days, meaning data agility will be a crucial factor for these types of engagements.
As you continue to build your mobile-first marketing efforts, don’t be afraid to look into new technologies like chatbots, augmented reality and even innovative mobile app capabilities. For example, chatbots and direct messaging can convey offers and content while also providing an interactive channel for engaging with customers in real time. And a mobile-first strategy, specifically around an app, is an effective way to address the growing nature of ‘always on’ shoppers, as retail strategies must shift toward being centered on reaching the customer wherever they are and at any time, whether via push notifications, timely emails or automated retail offers.
Who knows how shopper behavior will evolve over the next five or 10 years, but in the meantime, focus on your mobile channels, as they will continue to be the key channel for connecting with your shoppers over the coming holiday season.
Tony Castiglioni is Vice President of Product Management, Oracle Marketing Cloud. He leads the Product team at Oracle Responsys, and applies his years of experience as a Product Management executive to release outstanding products. Castiglioni has held product leadership positions at both startups and large enterprise companies, while leading cutting edge business and consumer products to market in the related spaces of e-Commerce, digital media, online advertising, and marketing technology. Castiglioni graduated from California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo.