Black Friday 2015 was not only the first time that more consumers shopped online than in-store, but more than half of that online traffic came from mobile rather than desktop. This marks a dramatic shift in shopping behavior as consumers grow more inclined to shop on their mobile devices than they ever have before.
Case in point: Mobile is ushering in a new era of retail, and the importance of embracing effective mobile strategies in retail cannot be overstated. With the holiday season around the corner, mobile presents a huge opportunity for retailers to attract, engage with and reward customers. Retailers that seamlessly blend online and in-store will have the greatest opportunity to maximum sales.
Here are five strategies retailers should consider to prepare for holiday 2016:
Marry Content with Commerce
With approximately 2 billion users of social networks, apps like Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat create an enormous, marketing opportunity for retailers. More and more, brands are sharing custom content on social media, creating more awareness and bringing the consumer into the lifestyle of the brand.
To be successful, brands should invest in rich media videos, as consumers like to interact with their media and their brands. Content should tell the brand’s “story” and be consistent with the messaging conveyed on the company’s website, native app and in-store.
A perfect example of “content meets commerce” is the “Missadventure” series of short videos created by Kate Spade. Shared on social media and the company’s website (not to mention the millions of views on YouTube), the clips feature Anna Kendrick and other celebrities in hilarious predicaments. In all cases, the Kate Spade clothing and accessories are prominently featured and the vibe is fun, sophisticated and colorful, the hallmarks of the Kate Spade brand. At the end of each clip, shoppable links are shared with viewers.
Provide Instantaneous Access to Product Information
Consumers are expecting response times in less than a second, according to a study by digital performance measurement firm Dynatrace. The study shows that just a half second difference in load time can make a 10% difference in sales. Yet, as companies try to engage more deeply with consumers by offering more bells and whistles on their websites, load times have slowed down, frustrating customers and losing sales.
Retailers should focus on a “mobile first” strategy can offer customers a fast and easy way to interact with the brand. This can be done through the development and use of native apps.
Seamless Checkout Online and In-Store
It’s estimated that more than 40% of online sales are lost due to friction during the checkout process, likely due to consumers continually being asked to enter login credentials and billing and shipping information. Checkout in-store can be equally as frustrating, as many consumers walk away from a line after 2-3 minutes of waiting.
As statistics show a growing number of shoppers becoming more comfortable using digital wallets, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, adopting modern, mobile wallet payments in-store and online can help to minimize friction and speed checkouts securely.
Driving Traffic and Consumer Engagement
With a mobile first strategy, retailers that drive traffic to their native app will offer the quickest, most effective way to engage with, reward and transact with customers.
Deep linking is the key here – consider it the new and improved SEO. Every touch point with the consumer should deep link back to the native app – more specifically, to an exact page on the native app. Promotional emails, social media links, and website content should all drive traffic back to the app.
Provide the Full Omnichannel Experience
While it’s important for retailers to focus on the online and off-line experience, it’s also important that they focus on making the two experiences seem like one. Shoppers are more likely to engage in either channel if they feel like the brand is cohesive across all channels.
Branding, merchandising, pricing, returns, rewards – the entire user experience – should seem familiar no matter where the user is experiencing it. An item purchased online should be returnable to a store. A promotion in a store should be available online. A mobile search for a dress should result in an in-app coupon when the customer walks by the store.
And while we’ve established that consumers are increasingly becoming mobile first, so too must sales associates. Information – about pricing, inventory and even about consumers’ proclivities and interests – should be available at their fingertips.
Black Friday is less than a 5 days away. Take a critical look at your mobile strategy now and capitalize on what promises to be a banner Holiday 2016.
Nitin Mangtani is CEO and Founder of PredictSpring