Cash-strapped Brits are feeling the pinch as disposable incomes are squeezed by rising prices, muted wage growth and government austerity measures. Nonetheless, eBay is forecasting £3.2bn in mobile sales this year, and it’s surprising that only 14 per cent of high street retailers have a mobile-optimised site. Technology is continuously evolving, but people are still trying to understand the capabilities of mobile, and many companies have been slow to invest in the creation of mobile sites and apps.
Consumers now use their smartphone as a way of researching products while in-store, for Click and Collect, scanning barcodes and comparing prices online. Some consumers even make their purchase on their phone while in store.
Most analysts are predicting that by 2014, the preferred choice of online access will be through mobile devices and within a year, mobiles will replace cash. Quick Tap became available earlier this year and its supporters believe we will soon no longer need cash or credit cards to go shopping, buy a coffee or pay for a meal.
Last year, 1 in 10 UK shoppers searched for Christmas presents via mobile rather than using their computers and this year, mCommerce revenues are set to rise from £226m in 2010 to a projected £438m in 2011. With that in mind, retailers need to prepare – and there’s still time! Below are ten steps retailers can take to ensure their mCommerce properties perform well to prevent themselves from missing the boat entirely this Christmas.
Don’t fall at the first hurdle
Engage your customers immediately, and keep latency low, or you’ll risk losing them – potentially for good. Your user interface should be kept simple and invite exploration – don’t overwhelm visitors with options, it’s all about keeping the right balance. Expose only the most important content and make sure functionality is useful for someone on the go. Aesthetically, make sure your environment is eye-catching, uncluttered, and intuitive.
Don’t reinvent what Apple and Android got right
App users expect a richer experience and will spend more time in the environment, so invest in delivering polished, robust features. Take visual cues from the apps that millions of consumers have already adopted. Apple and Android have essentially set the precedence for mobile user interfaces; so don’t try to reinvent what is already considered a best practice. Mimic simple, clean features like picker wheels, category navigation, sliders, and buttons. If your environment is familiar, users with engage right away.
Nobody likes change
Make cross-channel activity seamless, this provides familiarity for customers and engagement will be higher. However, while your mobile and web environment should share the same core structure, you cannot simply shrink your online storefront down to fit a mobile platform, this will create site abandonment.
It’s all about convenience
To drive adoption, a mobile site or app must offer useful features, such as a one-touch add-to-cart button or the ability to view search results effortlessly. The combination of a small screen size and expectation of instant information means you must create features to streamline the user experience in order to capture their attention and keep them engaged.
Keep it social
Make it easy for users to evangelise your products for you by writing mobile reviews and enabling them to share their reviews and wish lists with one-touch posting capabilities to sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Keep it relevant
Smartphone owners are unforgiving if an app or site does not appear relevant to them. The limited time you have to engage mobile users means irrelevant promotions will frustrate them and push abandonment.
Keep it simple
If you force customers to fill in long forms during checkout this will lead to cart abandonment. Therefore, populate the payment screen with as much information as possible from a customer’s existing eCommerce account.
Create a way to entice users to come back to your mobile site/app with features such as a loyalty programme or exclusive offers, here’s your time to shine and get creative!
Leverage the voice of the customer
Having a mobile environment provides the ultimate transparency into the needs and behaviors of customers – so take advantage of this. Because phones are with users 24/7 and aren’t shared devices, search history, behavior, and even their location is fully accessible – and totally personal. Make sure to utilise this data to provide a more compelling mobile environment, and continuously improve the customer experience.
Stay one step ahead of others
It’s critical that you track users interactions early for long-term success. As more users engage and more data is gathered, you can use that data to fine-tune the user experience. If you have the ability to deliver a better experience faster than the competition, adoption of your mobile solution will increase and you’ll be on the right track to success.
The bottom line is, order to stay competitive, your mobile environment has to be compelling enough that customers adopt it and come back on a regular basis. Know your target audience and recognise how their needs, obstacles, and behaviors differ in the mobile from your Web site. Compensate limitations in a mobile environment with features rooted in simplicity, convenience, and immediacy. After all, the more useful your mobile environment is, the more your customers will return.
Andrew Webb is an eBusiness Strategist at Endeca