When considering a multichannel selling strategy, mobile commerce should be at the top of your list. Retailers originally envisioned consumers researching products on mobile and then completing purchases on desktops; however, the data shows that consumers are proving retailers otherwise.
In the U.S., 166 million people owned smartphones by the end of March and eMarketer expects the number of tablets users to grow to 147.2 million by the end of 2014. As smartphone and tablet use steadily increases, it is no surprise that customers are turning to mobile as a preferred channel for online shopping; not just an important aid when shopping in-store.
Customers continue to demand more out of mobile, especially as technology further develops. Many of the top retailers have developed an m-commerce strategy as a competitive advantage and are quickly seeing the profit from doing so.
Internet Retailer Mobile 500
Internet Retailer revealed in an article this month new figures published in their Internet Retailer 2015 Mobile 500. The report signifies that the 500 leading retailers in mobile commerce will experience sales via smartphones and tablets growing 80% in 2014 to $83.78 billion, 21% of total web sales for those merchants.
Among the 2015 Mobile 500 retailers’ mobile sales, 59% were from tablets and 41% were from smartphones. Despite these numbers, m-commerce experts predict that smartphones will eventually own mobile sales as smartphone screens get larger and easier payment solution technology becomes available.
The data also disclosed two prominent trends among the Mobile 500 retailers: responsive web design and the use of mobile apps. Consider incorporating both of these trends into your own multichannel strategy as a way to leverage mobile as one of your top performing channels.
Responsive Web Design
The number of retailers included in the report using responsive design websites increased 164% compared with 2014. Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach that produces an optimal viewing experience for users through screen size customization. It focuses on easier reading and navigation by eliminating extraneous resizing, panning, and scrolling of a web page.
(Not sure what I mean? nChannel.com is responsive. If you’re on a desktop, shrink down your browser’s width and watch the website respond.)
Responsive web design creates a web experience that works well across all types of devices from mobile phones to desktop computers. More than one-fifth of the leading mobile retailers have optimized their websites with responsive web design and experts have predicted that number to rise to half next year.
As users move back and forth among devices when both researching and purchasing products, responsive web design can be vital in providing a better shopping experience for your customers. For your mobile users, RWD could be the answer for keeping customers on your site longer and having them find product information trouble-free, resulting in repeat visits and more mobile sales.
The second lead trend is the development of mobile apps among retailers. In the 2015 edition of the IR Mobile 500, mobile apps account for 42.4% of mobile sales while 57.6% come from web sites on smartphones and tablets. Both the number of apps offered by Mobile 500 retailers and the number of retailers offering apps have each increased significantly.
Mobile apps can be an effective way to extend your selling touch points while still keeping a consistent brand image across all your sales channels.
As a market leader in utilizing mobile app technology, Belk Inc., No. 171 in the 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500, is exploring another lead trend of optimizing location technology when using mobile apps. The retailer is examining Apple’s iBeacon technology as a possible integration with its app.
Beacons are small pieces of hardware that retailers place throughout any physical store that communicate with apps on mobile devices via Bluetooth Low Energy wireless networking technology. This technology requires no internet link, which is a major plus for both customers and retailers.
When a customer with a Belk app on his or her smartphone enters the store, beacons sense the shopper and transmit a coupon such as 20% of any purchase via an app push notification on their phone. This technology focuses on giving customers the right information when they need it.
These trends are great examples of how retailers are discovering ways to provide customers with a seamless experience as they engage with their brand across multiple sales channels. You should incorporate mobile commerce into your multichannel strategy or risk being left behind by your competition.