Last week, the e-tailing group released its fifth annual Mystery Shopping Report. Its focus on mobile customer experience was of particular interest to me, because it reaffirmed that, while retailers rank mobile as a top priority, they’re still in the early stages of creating superior mobile experiences. In other words, retailers may understand the importance of spending time and money to keep up with an increasingly mobile shopping population, but they’re still making decisions in the context of their existing business rather than in the mobile space.
This worries me. A retailer’s overall omnichannel strategy becomes weakened when one channel (i.e. mobile) is overlooked. According to the e-tailing group, 65 percent of U.S. consumers age 13 and above use smartphones and 34 percent use tablets. And that number is growing – fast! Mobile is a channel that cannot be ignored (do I really even need to say that in 2014?!) Retailers must optimize their brand’s mobile customer experience. Period.
The key to creating a superior mobile experience is to put yourself in the mind of the consumer. I’ve often noticed that some retailers mistake mobile for just a pared-down version of a desktop experience. Sure, consistent design and formatting are important across all channels, but consumers interact completely differently with mobile. On mobile, customers expect and require efficiency. What is this brand offering me, and how can I purchase it? And, how can I achieve this in as few clicks as possible? Simply cramming an entire ecommerce site onto a mobile screen is NOT the answer here.
To truly optimize your mobile channel, I’d also urge you to prioritize personalization. And by personalization, I mean tailoring the full experience to an individual so that they can do what they want more easily. Understanding your customer by leveraging existing consumer data and personalizing any messaging elements in real-time (i.e. content, creative, promotions, etc.) will create highly effective and coordinated user experiences. Again, the key here is efficiency and relevancy. And the fewer customer clicks required, the better.
Now, here’s the important part that many retailers forget: fantastic mobile experiences aren’t much good if they don’t tie in to a brand’s larger, omnichannel strategy. So, perhaps it’s fair to say that a retailer’s goal shouldn’t be to implement superior mobile customer experiences, but rather, to deliver channel-agnostic shopping experiences that are context aware (in that they leverage the specific strengths of a given media while avoiding its limits). For example, mobile gives you access to great location information, but you have a lot less screen real estate. Optimizing mobile is one piece of the omnichannel puzzle that will enable customers to move seamlessly from a retailer’s physical store to their channel-of-choice, where each experience is consistent with the brand and easy to use.
Some 124.8 million U.S. consumers, or 63 percent of digital shoppers, will shop on a smartphone this year, according to the Mystery Shopping Report. Don’t miss out on these potential new customers.