From scrolling to sales: the future of mobile retailing

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By Craig Smith, VP of solutions & customer success, Amplience.

Mobile retailing has become a pivotal milestone in consumer buying habits, with over half of online sales being made through mobile devices, reports IMRG.

As shoppers move from the high street to screens we are seeing shoppers shift from simply browsing to completing the entire shopping journey on their mobile devices. People are finding less reasons to shop in physical stores as the virtual world becomes more efficient, specifically turning to mobile shopping for its convenience and speed.

Expectations are high for time-poor shoppers, high speeds and fluidity are expected when navigating the pages of online shops. Customer attention spans are dwindling and retailers are not helped by small screens and slow connection speeds. To ensure spending, retailers need to cater to, not coerce their customers. Ultimately, this boils down to improving the capabilities of the mobile shop and focusing on the experience of the customer.

Stand out from the crowd

Many retailers are struggling to adapt to this new shopping habit and are failing to create engaging apps or content. This means that once a customer is shopping on mobile, the experience must be relevant and served to them quickly. Retailers must start building experiences for mobile that vie for attention to ensure they aren't left behind.

The app market is a crowded space but there is a great opportunity for retailers to embrace the appetite for mobile. Responsive designs may cost less to run, but often deliver a compromised experience on mobile. They are often slower to load and don't display the content as beautifully as needed for maximum yield on traffic. The most popular applications on mobile are all designed for mobile first – not compromised. It's unlikely that you're going to get that highly engaging Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram like experience by serving content that is not relevant, but simply shoehorned from a desktop screen with Wi-Fi to fit on a mobile display using a mobile network.

ASOS has reaped the benefits of an efficient and smooth mobile app, developed to cater to changing customer demands and to boost engagement and loyalty. ASOS recently reported a 26 per cent rise in retail sales thanks to its mobile customers. ASOS launched its new app which was built specifically to incorporate cutting edge design, seamless navigation and new features such as spotlight search and 3D touch for iPhone users. ASOS has 17 million followers across its social channels and regularly uses Snapchat and Instragram as a tactic to broadcast new pieces and trends to keep the brand fresh and engaging, enticing customers to return again and again.

When it comes to the key point of consideration for a customer on their shopping journey the product detail page, the page load must be kept small so that the page loads faster, but allow customers to zoom into product detail right down to the fabric and stitching. Load speed or quality doesn't need to be compromised either, the key here is not to load the high definition image with the page but only when the customer zooms in. This approach gives all the visual detail the customer could want emulating an in store experience, without having them wait around or leave while the page loads.

Right here, right now

Retailers also need to seriously consider one click purchase functionality on mobile, the proof is 70 per cent of Amazon customers make their purchases on mobile. The convenience of its 'Buy Now' one-click function combined with lightning fast load speeds are the reason for this. Despite this we've not seen any of the big UK retailers follow their lead – yet.

Mobile has to target the user with personalised content that is relevant to them. A person's mobile phone is their most intimate piece of technology. It's how they talk to their friends and family and engage with social media. Yet, more often than not, when they load a retailer's homepage they are greeted with generic content, product offers and suggestions that don't click with them. Relevant content drives sales and content personalisation on mobile should be a top priority for UK retailers.

As retailers find new ways to streamline and display their content across all devices they will reap the benefits from true omni-channel personalisation. The customer journey will fuse together, regardless of the device, so shoppers can browse on one device, send links to their friends on another all before completing the purchase elsewhere. Ultimately, a connected experience is what will make shoppers loyal and more likely to spend.

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