With the continued growth of the handheld device market, mobile commerce continues its rapid rise. Many millennials use their smartphones as their primary internet connection. In fact, mobile internet traffic has actually surpassed desktop traffic. This increase in traffic has also led to a rapid increase in mobile sales.
The mobile market is clearly growing by leaps and bounds. When you look at your mobile device – phone, tablet or any other digital sidekick of choice – what do you see? One answer should hopefully be “a gateway to online shopping.” With M-commerce on the rise, it’s not enough to realize how much M-commerce is growing.
To be truly effective at marketing and selling through this channel, retailers should be aware of the reasons why it’s growing in order to better engage customers through this shopping platform. Using smartphones to shop is only natural, especially since they’ve become computers on-the-go. Now, the entire web is at consumers’ fingertips no matter where they might be.
There used to be a day when a consumer could look at a website for their favorite retailer on their phone, and be frustrated that it wasn’t mobile-friendly. That’s where tech-savvy retailers stepped in. They began thinking mobile-first and transforming their existing websites.
These were essentially responsive mobile designs – which adapt their website appearance to the type and size of a visitor’s device. Specialty mobile designs were also built specifically for mobile users with less overall functionality but improved design for purchasing behaviours.
Google also released an algorithm update in April 2016 that penalized websites in mobile search results that were not mobile-friendly. This means sites are being rewarded if they offer a mobile-friendly website, and is a great motivation to move into mobile-friendly territory.
Mobile Apps Are Not Always Necessary
Many retailers feel that they always need a mobile app to maximize mobile sales. That simply is not true. Today’s mobile devices and browsers have advanced to the point where they can handle most of the functions of the top mobile applications. For example, with the right equipment, location information can now be captured through a browser.
A mobile app is only needed if the incremental spend is justified by a business case. The key is to treat your website like a product with mobile as a feature. You should dedicate programming resources to it and update it frequently to continually improve commerce opportunities.
It is also very important to review your website periodically for errors and bugs. These would ideally be caught before production, but website owners often focus on adding new functionality to their sites, but never clean them up. Websites can easily get bloated this way.
Navigation Is The Key
Navigation is one of the biggest challenges in mobile website design because there are so many different products and so little room to properly display them. Navigation control and design is one of the main reasons many of the largest retailers develop mobile apps.
When you build a website, there are ways to enable and disable features on mobile devices based on what’s called a “user agent”. This technology can tell what type of device and browser you are using, and then the web application tunes certain site features to make the user experience more appealing.
For example, let’s say a desktop website has a fairly complex menu. That menu presents sub-menus when the user rolls over specific words or icons. This feature is not going to work on a mobile device. If you have this feature, you will need to ensure an alternative mobile navigation. One which gets people to where they need to go while still preserving some level of interactivity.
Mobile connections are typically not as fast as wired desktop connections. Therefore, if a website becomes very large and there is no alternative mobile version, you run the risk of losing mobile traffic. It’s great to have a feature-rich desktop version of the site, but it is important to turn some of these features off on the mobile site. You don’t want to block or delay customers from the main call to action which is to buy your products.
How are consumers engaging in M-commerce – varies by industry. And, so, considering a personalized plan for your business is one key to successfully engaging consumers through this channel. Even if customers don’t purchase from their mobile device, their mobile device is playing a key role. It gives that consumer the necessary information to make a purchase decision.
For consumers, mobile devices have become an extension of the research and comparison phase of shopping. Especially, because they can quickly find products and reviews, as well as check their rewards through loyalty programs or credit cards.
Retailers should consider being present in the mobile channel based on what’s best for their type of business. Whether it’s an app, mobile-friendly website, or social media channels, in order to reach customers and deliver relevant information.
Even if your business as part of an industry where most sales are completed via desktop or even in-person, you should consider investing in the mobile platform as a part of your digital marketing strategy, knowing your customers will use mobile tools to come to an informed purchasing decision.
The easier it is for your customers to complete a mobile purchase, the sooner you’ll start to build engagement among this digitally-demanding customer demographic. M-commerce is on the rise, which means your digital shopping experience could reach new heights as well.