Traditional Retailers and the Mobile Engagement Crisis
This far into the e-commerce evolution, most companies have come to understand how critical it is to implement an online presence for their consumers. No one will question that. However, far fewer of these companies— yes, even the ones who realize the web’s potential— don’t fully comprehend the significance of mobile. This gap has fueled what some are calling a “mobile engagement crisis”. As always, there are innovative players who have seen the trend and capitalized, such as app giants Uber and Snapchat, but there are exponentially more ways traditional retailers can take advantage of the ever-growing mobile solution.
How Many Shoppers are Active on Mobile Platforms?
Before even brainstorming how a company should develop their mobile platform, they must know why it is important. According to UPS’s fifth annual Pulse of the Online Shopper, “77% of all online shoppers use a smartphone at some point in the purchase process,” and some “44% of them make purchases on their phones, 29% use their phones to make in-store payments, and 82% access retailer apps.” This data shows that consumers are actively engaging mobile platforms during their shopping experience.
As with any other service or product, “the mobile end user has shown that they will change services to get a better, more engaged experience,” says Jason Ankeny, CEO of Localytics, a mobile experience, marketing, and analytics service provider. Thus, consumers will abandon malfunctioning, poor performing, or just plain feeble mobile interfaces in search of one that offers the capability they desire and require.
Customer Intelligence is Key in Maximizing Your Mobile Channel
Now, how does one position their mobile channel to maximize its effectiveness? The first thing any retailer must do—not just for mobile, but for all endeavors—is to really get to know your customer and analyze that information to offer them more. The method to achieve this is through communication: “Unlike the web, which is one-way, one-directional, static delivery of content, mobile creates the ability to have bi-directional communication with the user—a dynamic experience, an interactive experience,” says Ankeny. By becoming an omnichannel retailer and increasing the touchpoints a retailer has with its consumers, and vice versa, brands can glean more useful information for the next iteration. Additionally, the more interactive the experience, the more likely your customer will be to return again and again.
Some companies say Mobile doesn’t work for them. Here’s two ways where they go wrong. A major challenge for those who say they have attempted the adoption of mobile but haven’t realized significant returns, is wasted effort. This is two-fold: either attempts have been too similar to their existing e-commerce offering, or they have failed to share customer data with all of their consumer-facing channels.
Mobile Initiatives Fail When Retailers Fail to Put the Consumer First
Companies should implement two strategies to ease their frustration and achieve better returns. The first key insight is that “Most retailer providers are thinking of [mobile] as just an extension of the web. And it’s not,” says Ankeny. Making this mistake does not offer a more interactive experience and bores the user.
Information Silos Harm the Customer Experience
Next, a mobile platform should communicate with the other approaches currently in operation. The crucial piece is to not annoy your consumer: a retailer should not bother their patrons with too many messages. As Ankeny says, “it’s about getting that understanding of the user and the context of what they’re doing and every way they’re touching you, and not just looking at these things as silos.” Once a customer contact is siloed into one channel, every element of cross functional information they could provide has been lost.
Mobile Development: Keep It Simple, Iterate and Grow
To strategize this campaign, newcomers to the mobile space should keep two things in mind. First and foremost, keep things simple, starting small. Ankeny says: “Just keep it simple. Do more of what’s working, and less of what’s not. That’s the key.” Once the first version proves successful, then keep iterating the strategy. Managing the user’s expectations and continuously offering novel encounters must evolve. If a campaign in mobile ever stagnates, it will quickly perish. What’s more, one clean method to keep redesigning and evaluating is to “make the process of measuring the impact of those creatives really simple,” according to Ankeny; If you derive simple insights from the data, quick and creative solutions can be designed to engage and re-engage the customer.
Mobile Opportunity Forces Company Realignment Toward More Collaboration
Regardless of the specifics of your mobile deployment strategy, the overarching goal of this platform must revolve around this one, not-so-simple concept: you will need to restructure yourself to become more agile. With the pervasiveness of mobile, what once comprised multiple different departments—or, rather, silos—will now overlap and blur into a seamless customer experience. Because customers expect this, management must remove barriers between functional areas in the organization to improve collaboration.
The other main point is to ‘focus on today’. Ankeny says, “…but all these [chatbots and voice-activated systems, among others] are just other endpoints to reach the user and give them what they want.” What’s critical is that you understand what your consumers want, and offer that experience in the way they want it. What this means is: it’s not one-size-fits-all. It depends on who you are, and who your customers are. And you are the Chief of that.
Author: Nathan Brandes