Last updated: To achieve cross-channel success, start thinking ‘mobile first’

To achieve cross-channel success, start thinking ‘mobile first’


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To say that mobile has revolutionized shopping — both online and in-store — would be a serious understatement. More than 60 percent of shopping behavior now starts on a smartphone or tablet (Google, The New Multi-Screen World), more than a trillion dollars in sales can be attributed to mobile’s influence, and upwards of 76 percent of people interact with brands on mobile at some point in time (Deloitte Digital).

Yet there are tons of missed opportunities when it comes to maximizing mobile for cross-channel success.

Many retailers still haven’t revamped their e-commerce, marketing or organizational strategies to shift mobile to the forefront where it belongs.

Luckily, there are always disruptors. Some of the savviest have already taken mobile by the reigns with truly impressive results. Guidance reached out to several successful mobile brands to find out how they’ve mobilized, so to speak, and the result is a new white paper, The Mobile Retailer: How Merchants like Charming Charlie and Pura Vida Put Mobile First, available for download here.

Mobile matters

According to comScore/GPShopper, 54 percent of mobile shoppers conduct research, 35 percent create shopping lists, and 24 percent check store inventory from their phones. People are using mobile to interact with brands more than ever before, far beyond just shopping through their devices.

There is a dramatic explosion in mobile engagement that’s occurring.

And the numbers are truly staggering: for many retailers, more than 50 percent of their traffic is coming from mobile devices; in some cases as high as 60-70 percent.

Rather than seeing mobile as just another purchase funnel, the innovators are treating it holistically, as a direct and powerful influencer of omni-channel sales. Conversions are important, of course, but the real purpose is providing a handheld hub for brand interaction across multiple channels.

A dramatic disconnect

This marks an interesting evolution for retailers. Fifteen years ago, e-commerce was new. However, today, this marks over a decade of baked-in, legacy process, including a decade of  retail teams conducting all merchandising and marketing activities primarily for desktop computers and laptops.

Merchants are now challenged to change the way they are thinking about their process, and to focus on mobile first, because that’s where most interaction begins. The traditional approach is still prevalent, but it’s the mobile-first retailers who are reaping significant rewards.

Mobile shopping cart = center of commerce

In addition to learning about products and brands, people use mobile to create shopping carts, which serve as digital wish lists of sorts.

While they may not eventually convert there, mobile carts have evolved into major catalysts for closing the loop in-store or offline. They are a clear sign of shopping intent, and the best merchants are jumping quickly to capitalize on this trend.

Closing the loop between mobile and in-store sales has driven real results for a number of retailers, some of whom have seen 68 percent increases in basket size, 100 percent captures on customer data, and more.  

Sense of urgency higher than ever

Another thing fueling the fire for mobile-first thinking? The average time spent on mobile sites. Between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016, the duration of average mobile visits declined from 8.2 seconds to 7.4 seconds: a 9.75 percent change. Bounce rates are also much lower when pages load efficiently.

One study found that conversion rates increase around 74 percent when load times declined from 8 to 2 seconds (Gomez/Dynatrace). Retailers must keep up to keep customers engaged.

Upping the ante with loyalty

One of the most surprising takeaways from the research was how quickly mobile can influence loyalty programs. PacSun, for example, added more than a million new sign-ups in just six months after modernizing their mobile platform and creating a built-in loyalty program.

Tying in-store and online transactions together through loyalty solved a customer need. It created a successful engagement method using mobile devices, and generated extremely dramatic adoption.

Not just for The Youth

Mobile is no longer predominantly for the younger set, either.

Even retailers that have 50+ demographics, and people in their 70s are using mobile phones as a hub for commerce – for learning about products and shopping.

One client, for example, has a target demographic of 40+ women, and this company enjoys an enormous amount of mobile traffic: upwards of 60 percent.

Mobile-centric thinking is the only way to go.

For retailers specifically, mobile first is the right approach. Where it’s less important is in B2B, in certain categories. As technology continues to move at breakneck speed, retailers need to scramble to catch up — and to catch consumers at all.

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