Walk down the sidewalk of any major city at rush hour, and you’ll be surrounded by a sea of people staring at, plugged into, and interacting with their smartphones. It’s remarkable just how popular these devices have become in such a short time. Smartphone usage in developed nations averages 60 percent and continues to climb.
Why should e-commerce managers take note when thinking about their long-term mobile web strategy?
Because many retailers have not yet wrapped their heads around the cultural and contextual shift caused by the pervasiveness of smartphones. Not only are smartphones and tablets everywhere, but they have become the most powerful, most personal, most contextually relevant and important components of e-commerce today.
Smartphones have dramatically shifted our behavior, particularly around how we shop. They’re with us nearly all the time. We look to them for connection, entertainment, and efficiency. They enhance and guide the moment-by-moment experiences that we have every day.
Facebook and Uber Set the Bar
Creating a great mobile commerce strategy begins with understanding this fact and making your website a favorite destination on your customer’s most personal, most guarded device.
It requires a deep understanding of how your customers shop, when and how they use their mobile devices, where they hit roadblocks on your site, and how they combine mobile and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences. Customers have extraordinarily high expectations for how your site performs and how their shopping experience unfolds on mobile devices.
Your mobile site is being judged against not just other retailers’ mobile websites but also consumers’ favorite apps.
Customers do this subconsciously, making snap judgments about brands, products, and buying choices in fractions of a second. This sets a high bar in terms of usability, consistency, and performance. If your customer taps and swipes her way through a few texts, then Facebook, then Uber, and then jumps to your website and hits a bump or two, you’re toast.
This is a strong wake-up call! Your mobile site is not the only thing happening in your customer’s life. She is probably also standing in line for groceries, hailing a taxi, watching her kids, or waiting for a meeting to start.
Your site must provide exactly what she expects, quickly, and cannot slow her down on her path to achieving her goal. Time is at a premium for every shopper, and she will drop you without a second thought if she cannot complete a fast, effortless e-commerce transaction in the time that it takes for her coffee order to be called.
Consider, too, that mobile devices change the way that customers approach all of your sales channels. Some customers use their mobile phones for research and reviews, then go into a store to try on, compare, and buy. Others try on in the store, then go back to their phones to price-shop and buy online.
Leading retailers understand the fluid nature of a customer’s shopping interactions and work to satisfy their customers wherever they are, regardless of which device or setting the customer chooses.
The Best Mobile Web Strategy: Provide a Seamless Shopping Experience
Consider this ideal scenario: a clothing retailer gives online customers the option to have items delivered to their homes or to pick up items at a local store.
The retailer’s in-store customers have the option to buy some items in the store and have out-of-stock items shipped to their door overnight. If the customer checks her smartphone in the dressing room and finds the same item for less at another retailer, the salesperson is authorized to price-match on the spot. If the customer loves the item but the store doesn’t have the right color, the salesperson locates the correct color on his phone using an in-store app while the customer tries on other items. The salesperson hands the device to the customer, who fills out shipping info and swipes a credit card to complete the purchase.
It’s seamless, it’s brilliant, and it is already happening every day at the best retailers.
Online, in-store, or a combination thereof, you need to meet your customers where they are and give them an intuitive, seamless shopping experience. They will use different devices according to their context and what’s most convenient at the moment. Getting the seamless experience right is difficult—there are a ton of back-end business systems that come into play, and supporting various platforms via the web and apps while keeping everything in sync is one of the biggest challenges that e-commerce teams face today.
Ultimately, though, optimizing your mobile web strategy is the only way to keep the ship from going down. Mobile shopping represents an enormous opportunity to enhance customer experience and, therefore, revenue growth. Your customers focus a tremendous amount of attention on their mobile devices, so use this opportunity to impress them.