MM Awards

2018 Predictions: VisualSoft

David Murphy

David Duke, chief operations officer at Visualsoft, says 2018 will be a great year for mCommerce.

Arguably the major takeaway from this year’s Black Friday sales was the astonishing performance of mCommerce. Gone are the days of crowds wrestling over the last half-price TV, being replaced by what was a calm, almost quiet weekend of in-store trading.

So, where were all the customers? It’s not as if our appetite for a bargain has suddenly left us – in fact, recent research suggests that the average UK consumer spends approximately nine months of their life searching for the best money-saving deals. The answer is simple: they were on their phones. According to IMRG, 39 per cent of the £1.39bn spent online in the UK was completed on a smartphone, beating desktop and tablet sales across the Black Friday weekend.

mCommerce has without doubt been the success story of this festive season, with advancing mobile technology facilitating ever-simpler, more intuitive shopping experiences. This, when combined with the unparalleled levels of convenience mobile shopping brings, has made consumers far more comfortable and confident using their phones to shop on the go, and retailers must adapt to this new landscape if they are to remain competitive. So let’s take a look at just how critical mCommerce is set to be as we move into 2018, as well as what is set to drive this growth.

mCommerce will become more important than ever
Since the launch of the first iPhone back in 2007, mCommerce has gradually grown in popularity against both physical and online retail. This built up until February 2016 – a watershed moment for mobile shopping – when mobile first overtook desktop as the channel on which most (51 per cent) of online sales were made.

Following this, 2017 was projected by many to be the year that mCommerce really took off, and there was no better example of this than Black Friday. Over the weekend, smartphones far outstripped desktops and tablets to become the de facto leader in how customers chose to shop, with 60 per cent of online retail traffic coming from smartphones.

Looking to next year, many experts predict that mCommerce is set to rise in popularity further, with Goldman Sachs forecasting that worldwide consumer spending via mobile is set to hit £468bn in 2018 – a threefold increase on 2014’s total of £

A new reality
So what’s set to drive this growth? One emerging trend set to revolutionise mobile shopping is augmented reality (AR), which exploded in popularity over the summer after heavy investment in the field from tech giants Apple and Google.

Early adopters such as IKEA have set the standard in terms of how this can be used to accelerate consumer buying processes, and we predict that mobile AR will be one of the breakout trends of 2018 as more retailers become comfortable with the tech.

Digital wallets
Another huge driver for the rise of mCommerce in 2018 will be the increasing prevalence of convenient payment solutions, particularly as we begin to see wider adoption of digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Pay with Google. These could turn what is currently mCommerce’s biggest hurdle – the inconvenience of the checkout process – into its biggest strength through the convenience of one-click payment.

Google’s mobile-first mentality
Designing with a mobile-first approach will become more important than ever following the news that Google will be implementing a mobile-first index in 2018. This will put added pressure on websites to ensure they are delivering the best possible user experience possible to their customers.

Essentially what this means is that Google has reacted to the fact that increasing numbers of us are now running searches from our mobiles, rather than our desktop browsers as we might have done in the past. Because of this, Google has started to use the mobile version of the web as their primary search engine index – essentially how it decides its search engine rankings.

This means that businesses which see their mobile site as a secondary consideration, rather than a priority, will suffer from an SEO perspective as Google will use the inferior mobile version to decide the website’s “worth”. A responsively designed site will be key to counteracting this, ensuring that the content across both desktop and mobile is exactly the same on each page.

Designing for mobile-first will be crucial
There is no longer any such thing as a customer who exclusively shops via one method. The buying journey consists of multiple stages, often starting on the phone or tablet, and finishing in-store. Customers may use their phones to research products online, or even use their phone as a tool to search for their nearest physical store. In fact, 76 per cent of customers who complete a mobile search for a high-street store visit that store within 24 hours. This makes it mission-critical for retailers to adopt a mobile-first mentality, designing their e-commerce offering with mobile as the priority.

A well-designed mobile site can be used to engage impulse buyers who are idly browsing or researching products, and an investment in omnichannel logistics services such as click-and-collect can then drive footfall into stores, converting this engagement into sales.

An equally important consideration in mobile-first design is page-load speed. However, we recently undertook some research into the UK’s top online retailers which made for worrying reading. 50 per cent of customers expect a mobile site to load in less than two seconds, with every additional second above this potentially causing conversions to drop by 20 per cent. Considering this, the fact that only 2 per cent of the UK’s top retailers have a well-optimised mobile site, with pages that load in under four seconds, is a real cause for concern.

As we enter 2018, mCommerce is only going to become more important, particularly as emerging technologies such as AR come to the forefront, and we see wider adoption of omnichannel delivery options such as same-day, and click-and-collect. Businesses need to be embracing mobile-first retail now, or risk being left behind in an ever more competitive retail landscape.