If you’re attending Shop.org Summit 2014 this week, you’ll no doubt get plenty of inspiration and ammunition for improving your e-commerce strategy in 2015.
However, if your mobile strategy is currently split across multiple platforms — smartphone, tablet and native apps — it’s time to unify your strategy, and your platform.
The Rise of the Three-Headed Monster
A few years ago, many retailers added to their desktop websites with mobile versions and/or mobile apps. They ended up with three different platforms to develop, maintain, and keep in sync.
It was (and still is for some) like a three-headed monster in need of constant feeding. You may store a customer’s credit card data on your “main” (desktop) website, but your mobile website, tablet website or mobile app doesn’t have easy access. Banner ads and merchandising that displays beautifully on desktop require special coding, or unique prep and uploading to do the same on a mobile website or app.
With mobile web traffic having passed the 50 percent mark, and tablets proving to be a very profitable conversion-point, “nice to have” capabilities have become “need to have” features in terms of a customer’s mobile experience.
You must deliver the same phenomenal experience regardless of how customers approach you. Your mobile commerce strategy has quickly become your customer strategy.
Time to Move to a Single Platform
We’re seeing a perfect storm of faster devices, more powerful device operating systems, and innovative app development techniques that make this a perfect time to move to a unified mobile commerce platform.
Instead of extending your sprawling infrastructure, replace it with a single platform that serves customers at all the mobile points they choose to use.
Apps play a key role in enabling this strategic shift. Improvements in web view technology (through iOS8) allow you provide an exceptional customer experience via Apps, on iOS and Android. A single platform allows for substantially simplified development and management, plus takes advantage of device capabilities such as geolocation, mobile wallet, push notifications, and becons.
Unparalleled Opportunities for Customer Closeness
While retailers should think of their mobile strategy as a component of a holistic, omnichannel approach, it is important to recognize the distinct value that the mobile channel provides.
In fact, mobile devices offer an unprecedented opportunity for customer closeness. Smartphones are basically identification devices that customers have with them all the time.
Using beacons and other emerging technologies, you can look at tracing your customer’s pathway through your store. Your systems can detect when they are passing by your store and ping them with an offer. When they click on your app, you know the exact minute of the day when they are inclined to think about your brand and your products.
Over time, this data will yield insights into customer behavior and guide strategic decisions, as well as providing the foundation for exceptionally accurate and useful personalization in messaging, offers and custom product suggestions.
Mobile devices offer a goldmine of information that you can use in learning about your customer, especially when you use that data in conjunction with desktop web and in-store data to get a 360-degree view of customer behavior.
If you have a multi-platform infrastructure today, integrating data and running marketing across different platforms can be complicated and expensive, and grows only more complex as devices proliferate and more tools are added to your tech stack.
Moving to a unified mobile commerce platform will enable you to better understand your customers and create a seamless experience that serves their needs in a more effective and authentic way.