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‘Mobile first’ approach now critical for retailers, finds new research

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Shopping via mobile devices in the UK has reached a critical maturity that retailers must prioritise effort and investment in mobile to create richer, more seamless experiences, according to the latest instalment in the Tryzens Expert Research series.

Published just before mobile jamboree Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona, Mobile First! Rethinking eCommerce for the always-on ‘Generation Consumer’, found that 75% of UK consumers now own a smartphone, and 61% own a tablet/iPad. 24% of respondents cited that they prefer to make their online purchases via a smartphone or tablet over other devices, such as a laptop. Women were 50% more likely to use a mobile compared to men to complete a purchase online. The research also revealed that social networks and retailer-specific shopping applications were seeing increased consumer engagement, representing a growing share of user shopping activity that aligns with the mobile experience.

These findings echo IMRG in 2016, which found that smartphones and tablets exceeded half of traffic to online retail sales; in February 2017, smartphone sales pulled ahead of tablets, growing 57% year-on-year to account for 54% of all sales made via a mobile device.

According to Tryzens’ CEO, Andy Burton, the inflexion of online behaviour to smartphones from laptops has already happened, and the smartphone has established itself as the “Swiss Army Knife” of today’s digital citizen.

He says: “With consumers spending more and more time on their smartphones, using them to bridge their interaction with every aspect of life, including a growing preference for shopping online, retailers are compelled to change the way they design eCommerce customer experiences. The advances in smartphone technology, and the digital transformation of retail business systems has enabled users to have richer, easier, more seamless omni-channel shopping experiences via the convenience of a mobile device. The more exposed shoppers become to these experiences, the more heightened their expectation of a similar experience from all of the brands they buy from.”

Burton continues: “By adopting ‘mobile first’ thinking, retailers design the user experience from the mobile device point of view before looking at the desktop, laptop, or any other device. What is very important to note here is this isn’t just about screen size, or responsive design. This is equally about understanding the ergonomics of a largely thumb-based interface. It is also about rethinking the basics like simple navigation, search and checkout and the many other opportunities for reducing friction in the shopping and purchasing process.”

“Looking ahead, ‘mobile first’ is going to support a much more multi-channel proposition for both the retailer and the consumer, leveraging mobile features such as location data, the camera, biometric identification and social media integration for a broader, but unified, channel experience. Equally, as retailers look to differentiate and drive loyalty many will reach a commercial tipping point where an application may also present an arguably richer complementary experience for their regular customer. This will increase the opportunities for personalisation of content, and where the online experience is closely curated to the brand, store (where relevant) and customer service experience.”

“Our findings clearly support other research in the market, such as IMRG. But what is interesting is that as mobile device penetration continues, consumer buying patterns and behaviours also change. Over half of all traffic to retail sites today is done on a handheld and that should come as no surprise when you consider that consumers now spend 60% more time on their smartphone than any other device! As a result browsing, buying and payment patterns are dramatically changing which is in turn leading to exponential increases in those apps that facilitate and speed up the checkout process. For retailers this is a game changer and they have to adapt or die: the new game in town is Mobile First!” concludes burton.

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