Our phones are constantly by our sides and browsing has become a pleasurable pastime. Whether socialising or shopping, mobile phones have now become a key part of our lives, so it’s time retailers added a more personal touch.
Personalisation doesn’t just happen – the right technology needs to be in place to provide bespoke experiences to customers. The way many mobile retail sites are structured means they require an overhaul if they are to engage with shoppers, encourage conversions and instil loyalty.
Better overall mobile user experience increases trust, which in turn makes shoppers more willing to share their personal information and preferences.
Speed is crucial here. Mobile sites need to be able to respond very quickly if they are to retain a time-strapped shopper’s attention - consumers expect web pages to load in two seconds or less and will quickly abandon sites that take longer to load. This is particularly important when a customer isn’t connected to WiFi and is relying on 4G (or less).
Optimal performance can be achieved only if the site has been created specifically for mobile, rather than just being responsive. The latter is a compromise at best. Designed to make developers’ lives easier - a one size fits all approach - responsive design on its own isn’t adequate for big brands with complex ecommerce sites. What you end up with are long pages and muddled online experiences, with shoppers left feeling frustrated.
Think of search as a conversation with your customer to ensure you guide them to the most relevant results. The search box needs to be prominently positioned and appear on every page on the site. Easy-to-use spell check, autocomplete category and sub-category filtering menus should be presented as a standard, as is the case on the ASOS mobile site.
Other forms of search are edging in too. Voice search hasn’t yet really taken off within the retail sector, but a visual search is becoming a highly effective personalisation tool. It has not reached the conversion rate of keyword search, but increasing numbers of brands, particularly in the fashion sector, are using it as a part of their ecommerce strategy.
By implementing a better mobile interface, a retailer will encourage the shopper to engage with its brand for longer periods and in much more detail - allowing it to apply a more relevant and tailored customer experience. Best practice methods include:
• Offering short menu lists with the main categories displayed and key actions clearly visible, not hidden in carousels
• Avoiding unnecessary content and the need for long scrolling – above the fold still matters
• Carefully sizing images, both for use of screen real estate and page weight
• Using breadcrumbs effectively to make navigation easy and intuitive
• Keeping product pages clear while containing relevant and easy-to-read information
• Enabling shoppers to add to a wish list without registration
• Simplifying the payment process and giving the option to make a purchase without registration - any form that needs filling should also be kept short
• Making sure all buttons and screen elements are optimised for touch navigation
• Never making the shopper feel they need to pinch to zoom in on a page or text
• Ensuring calls to action do not open in a new page or tab
• Avoiding adding any unrequested pop-ups or interstitial pages
• Adding a mobile-friendly online chat function
• Ensuring phone numbers are clickable
• Displaying the correct keyboard
• Adding social media links
Once you have made the shopper feel comfortable navigating your site, you can fine-tune the personalisation. Separate ‘Recommended for You’ from ‘Others also liked’, ‘Most Popular’ and ‘What’s Hot’ and offer relevant suggestions based on a range of factors, including purchase history (from multiple sources across devices), the customer’s shopping habits over time, buying patterns and what others bought.
Argos does a neat job of personalising recommendations that won’t alienate its customers in the process.
Seasonal trends, the weather and knowing the shopper’s location also provide more context.
Remember to allow for a light human touch to keep personalisation in line with brand strategy and identity and to make the best use of the limited screen space available on mobile. Combining machine-led automation alongside creativity and control will help you to achieve this, which should naturally lead to improved engagement over time, making your site a ‘go-to’ shopping destination for your target customers.
When retailers say ‘we need an app’, I immediately ask ‘what for?’ A mobile site is convenient, doesn’t need downloading, invites impulse buying and has a broader reach. My advice is always to optimise the mobile site first, and then augment it with an app - to further increase brand trust and instil loyalty from new customers.
The greatest challenge for most retailers is to nail the mobile web experience. Get this right and you’ll be able to layer on relevant personalisation techniques to build one-to-one relationships with customers on mobile that will benefit your business across every platform. The best experiences have a mobile-first mentality, and the more retailers improve their offering in this respect, the better the entire personalised multi-channel journey will be.