Editor’s Comment

 

As InternetRetailing magazine goes to print, retailers are rolling out their Christmas adverts and it looks like delivery is the big theme for 2017 – along with the usual flutter of cute and kindness. Amazon’s Christmas television advert shows the journey of a Christmas present, ordered on a bus from an Amazon warehouse, to a delighted recipient in a remote part of the world. Argos’ advert, launched the same week, has delivery as the hero too.

In this issue of InternetRetailing, the eDelivery section includes the latest news from the logistics industry and an interview with Peter Ward, Chairman of the UK Warehousing Association. He discusses how the retail and logistics industries are intrinsically linked. However, he questions whether the relationship is sustainable.

Before we get to the busy Black Friday and Christmas period, InternetRetailing examines all things mobile, the latest developments in around phones and mobility effecting retailers and customers.

“Mobile conversion rates are on an upward trend but they are still lower than desktop,” says Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director at IMRG. In a feature on mobile conversion and optimisation he adds that the average conversion rate for desktops was 4.6% in 2016, compared with 4% for tablets and 2.3% for smartphones. This year, they are running at 4.7%, 4% and 2.4%, respectively. In 2015, the average smartphone conversion rate was just 1.8%.

So, conversion rates on smartphones across the retail industry are increasing, but it is taking a whole host of factors – from the customer journey and simplifying navigation and product pages, to testing for the right colour, location and size of every button and reducing friction from the checkout pages – to do it.

In another feature, Paul Skeldon, Mobile Editor, InternetRetailing, investigates the link between mobile, social and sales. As he says, “Social media and mobile are made for each other – and increasingly, they are made for retail too. In fact, some 6% of mobile traffic to UK retailers’ websites is driven by social apps such as Snapchat and Instagram – more than any other country globally.”

One technology – which is very well suited to mobile – is Augmented Reality (AR). It has been on the periphery of retailing for more than a decade with retailers and brands occasionally dipping into testing and using it in marketing campaigns and product catalogues.

Famously, Ikea used it as a visualisation aid enabling shoppers to place a virtual item of furniture in their home to see how the actual item would look in situ. In 2009, Lego used the technology in an in-store kiosk to show shoppers what the contents of particular kits would look like once the model was made up.

Apple and Google have both launched development kits to make AR easier to trial – I look forward to seeing what retailers make of it.

Another technology on the rise in 2017 has been voice-activation as shoppers turn to voice-controlled personal devices such as a Google Home, Amazon’s Echo and Alexa and Apple’s Siri-enabled HomePod. One study claims that 43% of US millennials have made a purchase via one of these devices. Paul Skeldon investigates how they are impacting retail and how voice control can be implemented.

As he says, “Where it gets interesting is that voice control is going to not only be the preserve of these devices, but also of all devices: it will be the way we interrogate the web. This means that voice control in retail is not just a matter of building out platforms that can handle voice inputs from these ‘home’ devices, but also to voice enable websites and apps.”

Back to today’s retailing and mobile is increasingly being used to reduce friction in store and to increase transparency and communications post-purchase. Guest articles from Qmatic and Paragon Software Systems examine these areas as they share their expertise with IR readers.

I hope you have your mobile sites in order as yet again the run up to Christmas is expected to be huge for mobile. Salmon predicts that £10bn of the £20bn spent online in November will be made via mobile while another forecast says that 30% of UK shoppers plan to use their smartphone to go bargain hunting. I suspect that most of us at InternetRetailing will be among them.

InternetRetailing magazine will be back after Christmas but you can keep up-to-date with all the news over the busy Black Friday and Christmas period online at internetretailing.net – and don’t forget to keep an eye on matters impacting logistics at edelivery.net.

Emma Herrod
Editor