2016 officially ushered in a new age of commerce in North America – it’s the first year that the majority of traffic going to retail sites came from mobile devices. In Asia, this amount of mobile traffic has been the norm for some time, but for those of us watching trends in North America, this signals a new tipping point that will bring many others with it.
How will the world of retail respond to the encroaching tidal wave of mobile-driven commerce?
Predictably, brands will look to engage audiences in a mostly mobile setting, given that this is the direction that things are going. Bloomberg reports that experts say retailers can expect to see online shopping evolve into a “mobile only” space. The implications for this are wide reaching and the insights are invaluable.
Tipping Point #1: Social Over Email
In the last decade, email marketing was the core channel for driving engagement to retail websites. However, Shopify’s recent study (surveying over 100,000 web stores who, for the first time this year, received more traffic from mobile than desktop) concludes, “the rise in mobile traffic to online stores is partly being fuelled by the overall trend of social-fuelled discovery becoming a major marketing channel.”
The popularity of social-based retail discovery will see mobile engagement channels use the most popular elements of their platforms (namely chat functionalities) to nurture the spontaneity of social discovery by evolving chatbots and message-based social tools.
The immediacy, and convenience of these other mobile engagement channels (like chat) will create yet another tipping point – one where revenue from these new channels will exceed the revenue from email marketing. This is something Mobify has already seen in the Middle East, where people are moving off email even faster than in North America.
Millennials and Generation Y are not really interested in email, they’re interested in social. It’s one of the many reasons that email marketing has failed to grow or sustain influence over younger audiences. Retailers should take note as these audiences will soon become a larger and much more influential demographic than their Baby Boomer grandparents.
Tipping Point #2: Mobile over Desktop Conversions
Some may find this timescale hard to believe but, with the acceleration in mobile usage across all categories of usage, it’s a safe prediction to make that within the next 12 to 24 months we will see conversion rates on mobile exceed that of desktop. This will happen because of the excellence and immediacy of mobile customer engagement. As its usage rises, so will the influence mobile has on retail stores and even customer service.
As it gets easier to pay on the web thanks to Apple and Android pay, we will see the barriers to mobile shopping lifted by technology giants like Google and Apple, who are looking to serve the interests of both their advertisers and their users. The holy grail of retail tech will come to fruition: mobile will outstrip desktop as the number one ranking medium for discovery, sales and conversion.
These milestones are (literally) just around the next quarter. Smart retailers should invest in mobile-driven initiatives today to lead their categories when the mobile-centred future unfolds over the next two years. If there has ever been a better time to invest in mobile, it’s not tomorrow. It’s today.