Jennifer Umstead
NRF 2017
Tips For mCommerce Success

On the first day of the NRF Big Show 2017 one thing was obvious: technology isn’t slowing down, so retail better be ahead of the curve, particularly when it comes to mobile commerce. Multiple sessions analyzed the rise of mobile commerce and its affect on retail. Below are three key takeaways we thought brands and retailers could learn from.

Anticipate, don’t react

At one of the first sessions of the day, “Are retailers meeting the mobile needs of customer? Global study says no”, Jeremy Gilman of DMI, one of the largest mobile-specific consulting agencies posed the question: what killed Blockbuster, one of the largest retailers in the US? Most of us thought the same thing: Netflix, Redbox, and the rise of streaming. But this isn’t the case. Blockbuster had all of the offerings of the competitors: “send-away service”, kiosks, low process, and even the opportunity to buy Netflix. The decline of Blockbuster was largely due to their reaction to a change in the marketplace, rather than their anticipation of it.

Usually the writing is on the wall, and when it comes to mobile, it’s clear as day. If brands want to keep up with the trends they need to anticipate, and develop their mobile platforms. One out of three holiday purchases were completed on mobile in the 2016 season according to Katherine Shappley, the head of small and medium businesses for Facebook. Another bold statement from Shappley: You only have four seconds for your mobile experience to work right for a customer before you have lost them. That includes load time, mobile viewing, and ease of use. Those large, bright, multi-pixel home pages on a 24-inch desktop might not translate to a 5” x 4” mobile screen. At the point it will be too difficult for a consumer to understand and you have lost a purchase.

With the clear direction the market is moving, it will serve business well to take the time and money and invest in their mobile experience, so they are anticipating this change instead of having to play catch up to their competitors.

If they buy your app, you have already won.

Do all brands need apps? Probably not. But for brands that an app makes sense for, build one. Customers who take the time to download the app are already more loyal customers then those who don’t. Jerry Hum, CEO of Touch of Modern, says the app visitor is 145% more valuable than the web visitor because they are so loyal and typically buy more. They are self selected. Smartphone users spend 66.9 hours on their phone per month, according to Hum, and instead of just sending an email when an event has occurred, mobile apps allow brands to “push” a notification to the consumer. This allows for increased timely communication. Users will receive an immediate notification as opposed to an email which they might not check for another 12 hours.

Apps allow users to interact more often and in a more meaningful way than just a website. It also allows the brand to do more for their customers. While an app might not be right for everyone, if it makes sense, then brands needs to take the time to create a meaningful, user friendly app.

Mobile isn’t just for out-of-store use

Often when people think of mobile commerce, they only think about out-of-store experiences. However, there is so much more to mobile than that. Mobile provides the opportunity to interact with the customer in a new way while they are physically in your store. Gilman, shared the fact that if a brand improved mobile while in the store then 88% of customers would be more likely to purchase from them than a competitor.

What are they looking for from an in-store mobile experience? According to Gilman it’s these six things: pricing of products, inventory, product reviews and advice, personalization, store guidance, and checkout and loyalty programs. Some brands are taking note, with an increase of 25% of retailers creating an app over the past year.

Customers are looking for ways to save time and money, and in-store mobile experience will accomplish this. Although we have heard of this concept for quite some time, this trend is only beginning to be put into practice. This provides an opportunity for brands to break in on the ground floor, and the flexibility to develop their offerings as new technology develops.

Customers expect a quality mobile experience from brands. If brands don’t deliver, then they are missing out on sales. A brand needs to take advantage of the many offerings mobile commerce provides it lest it becomes the next Blockbuster. Staying relevant to consumers means anticipating the changes in the marketplace.

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