Dos and Don’ts of Mobile Commerce for Global Retailers

walmart-holiday-mobile-app-on-iphone-200Mobile commerce is increasing across the globe at a staggering pace:

  • PayPal research shows m-commerce growing three times faster than e-commerce (42% CAGR vs 13%), from $102 billion to $291 billion, from 2013 to 2016.
  • 59% of smartphone users ages 18-34 have used their mobile device to shop online  (PayPal)
  • M-commerce will be almost half (46.6%) of total e-commerce in 2018—or $626 billion. (Goldman Sachs)
  • In some countries—such as China, Turkey, and the UAE—more than half of Internet shoppers already used their smartphones to purchase online in 2014, versus 31% of U.S. consumers. (PayPal)

And it’s not just the purchase itself that is “going mobile;” so are pre- and post-purchase processes in the customer journey. Already more search queries originate from mobile devices than desktops in at least ten countries. (Google)  The majority of our clients’ customers, across all regions and countries, check on shipping or delivery status via smartphone. Shopper interactions do not end at checkout. What follows is still part of the brand experience—and is increasingly conducted via mobile device.

Despite this trend, only a tiny fraction of retailers are reaping the benefits from offering a truly excellent mobile experience. Forrester Research even published a report at the end of 2014 entitled “Predictions 2015: Most Firms Will Underinvest in Mobile eBusiness.” The report predicts that very few businesses will successfully execute mobile strategies in 2015 but the ones that do will leapfrog ahead of those who “continue to take a myopic approach by considering mobile as just another digital channel.”

Often times the lag in proper execution of mobile strategies is due to the cost, time, lack of expertise, and risk involved in such a capital investment. Going mobile takes money. You need the right technology and expertise. Creating a mobile strategy and building a mobile platform also involve multiple stakeholders and decision makers—especially when thinking globally.

As I see it, if you do not start executing the right mobile strategy now, you may just miss the boat. Here is what global retailers should be doing—and not doing—when it comes to mobile strategy:

  • DO make Mobile a priority ASAP, otherwise you are already way behind—especially if young adults are your target audience. It is critical to get Marketing and IT and any other stakeholders committed and on the same page.
  • DO NOT just mimic your desktop website on your mobile site. The smaller screen on a mobile device requires thumb-friendly layouts, easy data entry, information scanability, and even more intuitive navigation.
  • DO take into account that the customer journey starts long before putting an item in the virtual shopping cart and extends long after clicking to buy—and mobile is increasingly playing a role along the entire journey.
  • DO NOT overlook the growing importance of the “micro moment” for shoppers everywhere. The micro moment is quick glance at one’s mobile device that delivers quick information that the shopper can either absorb or act on immediately.
  • DO take time to understand your target markets—the demographics and how consumers use their mobile devices. For instance, are they using mobile devices inside brick and mortar stores, and, if so, what for? In China the majority of consumers use their smartphones to compare prices, read product reviews, and seek opinions on social media. In South Korea, they also check often for coupons and loyalty program rewards.
  • DO NOT make customers have to register in order to proceed on your mobile site.  The easiest way to turn away traffic (and potential sales) is to add additional steps before they can even view your product.
  • DO simplify product research to give customers what they want quickly.  Making the “Search” option easy and prominent on your mobile site. Consider adding features such as “Inventory Locator” as that may help increase conversion rates.  Wisely use categories and subcategories, along with product filters that a customer would find useful (sale, best sellers, new items, customer favorite, etc.)  In addition, provide a “recently viewed” option so customers can easily compare previously viewed items and don’t have to start their search from scratch.
  • DO NOT complicate the checkout process. Provide fewer input fields and consider using auto-populate features. In addition to the standard payment options, allow for payment options such as Paypal and Google Wallet that simplify checkout for your customer. The easier you make it to buy, the more likely they are to buy.
  • DO simplify your email format. Most people check their email on a mobile device.
  • DO invest in expertise that can help you understand how to create customer experiences that optimize and localize product information, checkout, payment options, customer service interactions, and so on—for your global shoppers using a mobile device.

Every day more and more shoppers around the world are either experiencing their first interaction with a brand, or developing an ongoing relationship with their favorite brands, on a smartphone. So if you are retailer that puts your customer’s experience first or wants to maximize your conversion rate, not only do you need to go mobile, you have to do it right.

Ahmed Naiem is Chief Commercial Officer at global ecommerce and logistics management firm eShopWorld.

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