Just as the smart big-book sellers moved their catalogues online at the dawn of ecommerce, sellers are now waking up to the huge opportunities offered by mobile commerce – and it’s easy to see why.
Mobile sales are growing at a phenomenal rate. In fact, forecasts predict mobile Internet users will eclipse PC Internet users in less than three years.
It’s staggering to believe anything could overshadow the home computer. But it will.
“80% of iPad owners already use their device for shopping”
To put that into perspective, 1 billion of us will be using smart phones by 2014 and, with the soar in popularity of larger-screened devices such as tablets, those figures are only set to grow. With nearly 80% of British iPad owners and almost half of all smartphone owners using their device for shopping, the case for m-commerce is clear. The real question is: how can the mail-order industry catch-up – and more importantly, get it right?
Is your business really ready for an app?
First and foremost, customer research is essential. Assumption is a high-risk strategy in the mobile environment. Before you develop anything – mobile store or app – you need to find out what your customers want.
Many have jumped into app development in a blind panic, regretting it the moment the bad reviews fly in. It’s a great deal easier, and cheaper, to get it right to begin with than make up for errors later.
Start by building a browser-based, mobile-friendly webstore, using the insight you’ve gained from your website. Then watch and learn. By appealing to a broad spectrum of people in the first instance, you will be able to segment your customers and indentify those who spend more money, more frequently.
The exercise will allow you to remove the guesswork and see who your best customers are, and how they use mobile sites (which can differ significantly from how they use the web). You can then evolve your mobile site and develop an app to attract those, and others like them. The increase in sales conversions and customer loyalty will most certainly make the short wait worthwhile.
Be consistent across your channels
It is vital that the mobile shopping experience be treated with the same attention to detail as your other sales channels; it should work as well as your store, call centre or website. To do that requires tight integration.
Shoppers move around. They’re comfortable with the different ways to shop. Some will use their mobile to browse and research a product before purchasing in-store or by phone; some will buy instantly through their mobile. Either way, sellers need to ensure multi-channel consistency. That means keeping your inventory updated, sharing product information and standardising pricing.
If a customer discovers discrepancies between channels, your call centres will hear about it. Remove the stress by linking all your commerce platforms seamlessly, for an all-round smoother, predictable shopping experience.
Convergent commerce systems have come along way over the past few years. Using intelligent technology, these powerful, flexible solutions can now evolve as a business changes, bringing together data and channels seamlessly, for much easier integration.
Mobile takes marketing further…
Whether your customers are checking their email, sending messages or checking their social sites, they are using mobile devices every single day (nearly 30 minutes a day on average) and this is where your marketing expertise can really take advantage.
By linking email content to mobile stores with hyperlinks, videos and rich media, or by integrating social media advertising with mobile product promotions, you can grab the attention of your customers everywhere they go, driving them straight through to your mobile site.
Paper-link with QR codes…
With the growth in smartphones, you can now encourage mobile use off-line by incorporating QR codes onto mailers, leaflets, adverts and packaging – anything you can print on. QR codes provide instant access from paper to web, allowing customers to scan anything from a poster to a bag, envelope or voucher, to find out more about your products in seconds.
M-commerce is simply the next step in the evolution of home shopping and that’s something we know a lot about in Britain. Customers in the UK are moving faster with mobile than nearly all other European countries. It’s up to us to support that enthusiasm with outstanding examples of customer experience across every channel, ready to improve and develop as the market demands.
WRITTEN FOR DIRECT COMMERCE MAGAZINE by Kia Cranwell, copywriter