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GUEST COMMENT Are you really making the most of mobile?

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Many retailers may think they have their mobile strategy optimised to the hilt, however, some are still missing a trick. Not only do mobile transactions make up an ever-growing proportion of overall sales, but mobile is becoming increasingly important throughout the customer journey – regardless of the channel of purchase.

As we all know, the mobile commerce opportunity is undeniable, with mCommerce sales in the UK forecast to represent 45% of total eCommerce sales by 2020 (at £42.5bn) according to eMarketer.

However, given the fast-moving nature of mobile, retailers cannot afford to wait. They must act now to capitalise on the vital role that mobile plays and take steps to improve the end-to-end customer experience.

Retailers must acknowledge that the customer journey is fractured. Shoppers are using their mobiles before, during and after they buy, to research, choose, validate and share their purchases. Fetch’s recent survey of mobile consumer shopping behaviours illustrates how integral mobile is to the Millennial shopping journey in particular.

Sixty-five per cent of 25-34-year-olds said that they regularly use their mobile phone to research a product or service before they go shopping as opposed to just 21% of those over 65 years old. A transaction may start in one channel but convert in another. Essentially, retailers need to look at the holistic customer journey and consider carefully how mobile can enhance the customer experience at each stage.

To do this, retailers should consider both customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX). CX is a human-centric approach, which encompasses the end-to- end customer journey across all touch points – both digital and physical – before, during and after a purchase. It is about understanding why customers use your site or app to start with, and how you can increase motivation and reduce friction in their journey.

UX encompasses all interactions a user has with a mobile website or app – from information architecture to visual design to usability – and is about making a particular business-owned experience as user-friendly and frictionless as possible. Looking at the end-to- end customer journey, although the purchase is clearly the “main event” and is what drives margins, what happens before and after is also an integral part of the process.

This is something that retailers often fail to fully grasp. The lessons of CX and UX need to be applied at the consideration stage, ie. when the shopper is researching the product, and at the loyalty stage, ie. will that shopper return and would they recommend the experience to a friend?

At the consideration stage, retailers should optimise mobile search. Even if a consumer is not yet aware of your brand, search is your best chance to change that and get your relevant products in front of them. In fact, a recent Google study found that 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search. Also ensure you leverage available data to offer targeted and relevant results. The app or mobile site the user ends up on also has to fit the bill.

Don’t just repurpose a desktop experience. Start from the bottom and build up, taking a mobile-first approach, rather than trying to shrink your desktop experience into mobile. Then enhance with the most appropriate elements, taking care not to include features that are not common to all handsets. Once the purchase is complete, your goal is to turn shoppers into loyal, repeat customers and ultimately into vocal advocates for your brand. At this stage, typical activities might include shoppers seeking support or assistance during fulfilment or post-purchase, as well as sharing photos, videos or other information about their purchase on mobile social or chat channels. Following your brand on social media and joining your loyalty scheme may be signs that a customer is on their way to becoming an advocate.

Fetch’s consumer survey highlighted that whilst most consumers frequently use messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to interact with friends and family, some are also now comfortable with brands interacting with them in this way. According to the survey, 26% of consumers want brands to send them relevant deals and offers via messaging apps, with the proportion standing at 37% for 25-34 year olds.

The lesson here is that mobile should be leveraged as a CRM channel. Once a consumer has bought from you, use all of the data sources available to deliver relevant offers and content. Retarget shoppers based not only on purchase history, but also on data such as demographic information or device location, in order to encourage loyalty and retention.

Making repeat purchases as easy as possible is another great way to secure advocates. On mobile, saving as many user details as possible, such as delivery and billing addresses, is particularly important, as consumers do not want to waste time manually entering information each time they purchase from a retailer.

The opportunities afforded by mobile are mammoth, however, technology, and as a result shopping habits, are constantly evolving. When looking ahead, the advice from retail experts eCommera is to always think strategically about the tech you put in place.

Alex Hamilton, head of insight at eCommera explains: “Mobile’s increasing dominance in the consumer journey has been the most significant disruptive force in retail in recent memory, with the online path to purchase evolving from one that was fairly linear, to one that is multi-faceted and complex.

“While the desktop user’s starting point is often Google, on mobile it’s a social media platform or messaging app.

“Another change we’ve seen is that the winning formula on web used to be keeping the user on your site for the longest dwell time, but on mobile it’s now about delivering a short, snappy customer experience, to cater for a modern-day consumer.

“This change in behaviour has driven a shift in digital priorities towards mobile, with our latest research placing ’optimising the customer experience on mobile’ as the number-one digital priority for retailers over the next three years.

“There nonetheless still exists a disconnect between what retailers are delivering and what consumers expect when it comes to mobile.

“Our advice is to fully understand how your consumer base can use mobile as part of the holistic experience with your brand and in doing so, build strategies to both ease and enhance their journey through to purchase.”

Julian Smith is head of strategy and innovation at Fetch

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