In today’s always connected environment, smartphones are everywhere, with almost ¾ of the mobile users in the US Market with Smartphones, according to analyst predictions
. They are now the go-to resource for a range of information, from news and communications to content consumption. By 2018, Gartner predicts that more than 50% of users will go to a smartphone or tablet first for online activities. These same mobile devices accounted for the majority of all online traffic on Thanksgiving Day according to recent data analysis by IBM. Specific to Black Friday, one in four online purchases were made on a mobile device.
Consumers that are digital-savvy and looking for specials are especially active and a main target for retailers who are constantly evolving and improving their omnichannel strategies. These are the communication and marketing efforts that help connect and personalize your experience as a customer across the different opportunities to engage with their brand, from email, online and mobile to visiting the actual retail location and using your loyalty or credit card with the merchant. As a result, the customers who are engaging across all of these channels are a high priority for the retailers this season. The new experiences range from the ability to search on a mobile tablet in the store for a specific item that is not within the local inventory in the store ship it to your home for free, to personalized and targeted messages via the iBeacon technology that senses your presence in the physical store and can present a specific offer or promotion.
Where does this impact your business? Do you want to engage consumers via their mobile device? What is the unique value that you are providing on mobile that will lead to the communication with your business that ideally will result in a sale/transaction? In many markets, including the US, the consumer is now spending more time on a mobile device than watching television, which still commands a significant portion of advertising dollars for the big brands and retailers today. It is enabling the brands and retailers to understand their customers in deeper details in the digital world of today and enable them to make the purchases while on site in the store, regardless if the desired product is local or not.
Personalization is priority in the mobile engagement. It can range from something as simple as the mobile user’s location and social interest, to the time of day and mobile platform they are using. This will only continue to evolve as we are merging the Big Data companies and brands now with consumer devices that are helping connect us all via the Internet of Things evolution. For example, picture the ability to target a consumer via mobile advertising based on their previous activity on Fitbit or a running fitness app. This clearly can link beyond retail and into other spending categories such as travel.
The introduction of Apple Pay has removed another barrier for the consumer to be able to explore and work with a mobile method of payment. If the payment options are streamlined for the consumer experience, whether it is via Apple Pay, Braintree/Venmo or others, it will likely lead to an easier sale, due to the added convenience and simplicity for the end users. Also, the mobile payment experience extends to the point of sale technology and retail transactions in the stores. The ability to check out with any associate who has a smartphone or tablet with them to scan you purchase and payment cards on the mobile device is helping the consumers with a timely and more simple checkout process while also decreasing the amount of time and training required for associates who will likely become focused on mobile first options from customer assistance to the final sale/transaction.
Clearly 2014 has been a great year for mobile app developers and users all around. The increased use of the apps resulted in an all-time high for app engagement with 22% more app launches, 21% more time in app, and even 34% more time on app in larger devices as shared recently by Localytics. App retention has accelerated as well, with 39% of people using an app at least 11 times after downloading an app. It is also interesting that paid acquired users are actually performing just as well as organic users.
After a year of overall growth and success, it is time that retailers and brands get mobile right the first time. Avoid the obstacles by investing in the appropriate tools and analytics in order to understand the behavior and customer journey to the purchase. According to a recent study
, there are now more customers who are using mobile for “web-rooming” where they research before the purchase, mitigating the previous concern with “show rooming” where the consumer would search the web on their mobile device while in the store. Clearly the retailers must consider all channels of communication as well as transactions in today’s economy – from in store to online and mobile all together to succeed.