Years of predictions finally became reality this holiday season, with mobile activity playing a dominant role. To prepare for 2018, merchants should rigorously test the most popular activities on their own mobile sites, and prioritize investments accordingly.
By all counts, mobile played a central role during the peak holiday shopping period. As of December 5, mobile accounted for more than 48% of online shopping activity and nearly a third of online sales, according to Adobe. Furthermore, conversion rates for mobile had jumped 12.9% year over year, signaling that shoppers are increasingly comfortable completing transactions on their mobile devices.
This growth means mobile commerce must be considered a core component of merchants’ omnichannel commerce strategy. Just as “online shopping” is now simply “shopping,” “m-commerce” is now inextricably woven into all commerce — which means most merchants face a long list of to-dos in order to bring mobile experiences up to par.
After addressing fundamentals like mobile site speed, merchants should let shoppers’ experiences be their guide when it comes to prioritizing projects. Not only should merchants shop their own mobile sites; they should enlist others to identify potential hurdles along the mobile path to purchase. While it’s ideal to conduct formal testing with unbiased recruits in a lab where results can be painstakingly recorded, those with limited budgets can assemble an ad hoc group of testers from among colleagues, friends, and family on a range of devices who can at least screen-shot awkward mobile moments and pass them on for improvement.
Among the key mobile tasks to assess:
Locate products nearby using generic and branded search terms.
The majority of search engine activity occurs on mobile devices, both in terms of volume and clicks on the overwhelmingly-popular Google Shopping ads. Merchants should both hone paid-search budgets to focus on visibility for key terms, and optimize natural ranking factors for mobile.
Once searchers locate products, they should be able to access accurate inventory levels at local outlets. Close to 60% of shoppers said they planned to use “buy online, pick-up in-store” (BOPIS) options during the holidays, according to Kibo data, and 54% said local inventory information justified store visits. To connect shoppers with nearby products swiftly, local availability data should be just one or two taps away from mobile search landing pages; once shoppers select their preferred store location, subsequent browsing should reflect that choice and automatically display local inventory status.
Access buying guides and product reviews in-aisle.
Nearly 60% of shoppers use their smartphones to shop while inside physical store outlets, according to Retail Dive — behavior that should be supported to enable connection with relevant products. To start, merchants should offer free in-store wifi to support research and browsing and alert shoppers to its availability with signage at the entrance and in the aisles.
When it comes to specific product information, merchants should connect shoppers to relevant content via QR codes, shortcut URLs, or even image-recognition search tools that take input from camera-phone snapshots. Product reviews are key purchase drivers, with 82% of overall online shoppers saying reviews influence buying decisions, according to Kibo data. When it comes to in-store behavior specifically, 41% of shoppers who use their phones while in the aisles seek out in-depth product information, with a third accessing reviews in particular, according to technology researcher Forrester.
Request customer service help via social media.
Social media is an increasingly popular means for shoppers to lodge customer service queries, and given that a whopping 79% of social media activity now occurs on smartphones, according to measurement firm comScore, merchants would do well to ensure that social customer service is attuned to the needs of mobile shoppers. That means proactively inviting transitions from wall or news feed posts to private-message queues, and then incorporating click-to-call options along the way to let shoppers know they don’t need to keep pecking out questions on small-screen keyboards.
In addition to removing technical and logistical hurdles, merchants should remove barriers to problem resolution by empowering social customer service staffers to access incomplete online orders, enter payment information, and award free shipping and other discounts at their discretion.
Purchase products for home delivery.
The growth of mobile commerce signals that shoppers are ready to go beyond research and make purchases on mobile devices — but many retailers’ sites still deliver a clunky small-screen experience from the cart onwards, with long checkout forms that make buying a chore.
When asked what single improvement would convince them to buy on mobile devices, 19% of shoppers said faster sites would help, 15% wanted enhanced security, and 13% sought one-click ordering, according to eMarketer. To meet these expectations, merchants need to translate proven best practices for communicating security and earning trust to small screens. Streamlining checkout by offering alternative payment options can also help boost efficiency and win sales.
Once ordering is complete, merchants should offer the option to receive post-transactional messaging via text message as well as email — thereby taking advantage of a ubiquitous mobile-only medium to engage customers.
Apply loyalty rewards while shopping and buying on mobile.
One way to help shoppers streamline mobile purchasing is by convincing them to create an account, thereby enabling saved addresses, payment information, and more. Connecting online accounts to loyalty incentive programs can also help — that is, if shoppers can actually apply points and perks during the mobile shopping purchase process.
The good news is that integration efforts have the potential to pay off: fully 72% of holiday shoppers told Kibo they’d be willing to create an account, suggesting that merchants who promote the omnichannel benefits of doing so — and then follow through on their promises — can reap significant rewards.
Read about how Kibo’s omnichannel commerce platform helps merchants integrate mobile into every phase of the customer lifecycle. And tell us: what mobile features and functionality are you testing now for potential improvement in 2018?