Purpose Built

IBM Tealeaf Bill LollerMobile devices are the first point of contact with consumers, so expectations for an optimal user experience have increased dramatically. However, according to our recent study, Reducing Customer Struggle 2013’, while executives understand how critical mobile is, most lack a strong understanding of how to deliver a high quality experience. Marketers must re-imagine the user experience and adopt strategies that, simply stated, put mobile first. Don’t start with the desktop experience and try to adapt it.

The average width of the human finger now drives user interactions and the experience. Visual over-load is a common problem. At the most basic level, a customer wants to search for something and then complete a transaction. If the search function is not easy to find and use, the experience is seri-ously flawed. This is alarming when you consider that 63 per cent of adults online would be less likely to buy from a company via other purchase channels if they experienced a problem conducting a mobile transaction, according to a separate study we conducted.

In the early days of the web a common belief was that if a consumer couldn’t find an item in two clicks you were likely to lose them. This is even more applicable in mobile. In fact, our research found that customers are intolerant of any faults, with 75 per cent of online adults believing there is no reason why a mobile transaction cannot be completed on the first try. If they do encounter prob-lems, 16 per cent admit they would become more likely to buy from a competitor, while 13 per cent would abandon the transaction altogether and try a competitor’s website or app instead. As such, building a flawless mobile platform has never been more essential.

Understanding existing mobile struggles
Before businesses can create the ultimate mobile experience, they must first understand where the problems lie with customers’ existing mobile shopping experience. According to over a third (36 per cent) of respondents to our research, the most serious issues faced by customers visiting eCom-merce sites via mobile devices are screen-sizing issues, as well as bad navigation and poor ‘findabil-ity’ issues. In addition, a quarter said form-filling problems (26 per cent) and slow page loading (23 per cent) were serious mobile issues.

With this insight into the issues customers face when using mobile devices for eCommerce, companies need to begin putting into practice clear strategies that can help resolve these issues to provide the best overall experience. For example, if a retailer finds that customers abandon immediately after doing a search for an item because they cannot zoom into product images on the mobile app like they can on the online website, the retailer would need to reconstruct the design of the app to ensure that it has all the functionality of its online site. In addition, businesses should also ensure their mobile sites are easy to navigate – for example, are all of the tabs on their mobile homepage clear and concise, and do they have a search bar customers can use to find exactly what they’re looking for?

Recruiting dedicated mobile teams
As mCommerce grows in popularity among consumers, more and more eBusinesses are seeing an increase in the proportion of traffic to their website attributed to mobile devices, with 41 per cent of respondents saying that mobile accounts for more than 20 per cent of their traffic, compared to just 17 per cent in 2012.

In response to this surge in mobile traffic, executives and marketers alike should also take a “mobile-in” view of the enterprise. Optimising customer interactions begins with reinventing existing business design and interconnecting enterprise business processes to emphasise mobile touchpoints. It’s all about building from the ground up for mobile, rather than retrofitting for mobile. When considered holistically, a successful mobile value chain not only drives mobile commerce, but creates entirely new ways to engage and deliver a perfect customer experience across all of your channels. For that reason some retailers have taken the step forward to appoint mobile commerce managers, in addition to eCommerce managers, to ensure objectives in these areas are met.

Integrating mobile, online and in-store
A key fact for any business to remember is that online and offline shopping are connected, and that the experience of shopping in one channel directly impacts the customer’s experience in the other channel. As such, providing a seamless experience across all channels is vital.

Some businesses and marketers are already finding ways of integrating the physical and digital worlds to improve the overall customer experience. Services like click-to-call, in-store wi-fi, and reserve and collect are easy to implement and can go a long way towards giving customers the impression that the organisation has really thought through how best to serve them.

Mobile traffic has increased considerably since last year, and customers’ expectations of the mobile experience are higher than ever. Embracing a mobile-first strategy is more critical than ever, to help businesses transform their customer experience delivery, business processes and engagement models across industries today. Not only this, it also provides the flexibility to adapt to new business challenges and embrace emerging opportunities that can increase future revenues.

Bill Loller is vice president of product management for mobile at IBM Tealeaf