Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Phones: not just for talking, now for shopping

Groceries & clothes, sporting goods & furniture, with a slide of the finger and a tap of a button, users are going to their phones for these purchases. Think it’s not your product their shopping for? I would think again.

Last time I spoke about the strength of eCommerce for retailers and the benefits it serves to the customers. However, we can’t stop at the desktop; it’s now time to move to the hand. And, seeing that 5.9 billion out of the 7 billion people (87%) worldwide already have mobile phones, it makes clear sense to start going mobile.  Not to mention, mobile commerce is expected to experience significant growth by 2015 from the six previous years — jumping 99-fold from $1 billion in sales in 2009 to more than $100 billion

In a recent study, 59% of smartphone users believe that it is as least somewhat important to be able to buy something using the device. So, let’s help them! Let’s take the shopping online. There are apps for coupons, comparison shopping, and apps that allow users to shop from your store through a different community and people are using these, addictively! Pair your mobile shopping experience with the apps that are already on the phones, and watch the sales come-in. In addition, 77% percent of people use their phones for searching, and 9/10 of those searches result in an action, i.e., in-store visit, purchase, etc. I want to make sure those actions are taking place with your company.  

Last week I highlighted three key steps to creating a leading website shopping experience from the computer, and many of those rules stand for mobile shopping, as well. But, people don’t want to shop on their phones from your computer based website, so there need to be adjustments. Below are three simple steps you can take, to make sure customers are shopping from you all the time.

1. The most important first step is to create a mobile-friendly shopping website. Your goal is to make the mobile version of your website as inviting and easy to use as your regular site, while taking into account the constraints of mobile devices. More info here

2. Products: To add to user experience and satisfaction, the mobile version should also offer them other features such as full product specs with quality photos included. More info here

3. Mobile Checkout: Because mobile Web transactions are often done in public, people feel even less secure about entering credit card and other personal information. Integrating a professional checkout service that stores this data online can make a big difference. More info here

Your shoppers are on their phones: playing games, checking Facebook, text messaging friends—why not take advantage of the addiction to the smartphone and make a sale. Implementing a thoughtful mobile shopping experience is not only going to benefit the customer, it will in turn benefit your ROI and you will look smart doing it.

Annie Kessler is a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program and has a passion for digital and interactive advertising and marketing. Annie will be graduating in December 2012. Annie can be reached on twitter using the handle @asugark 

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