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e-Commerce Industry News

May 14, 2014
Retailers must make mobile a pillar of their omnichannel efforts
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May 14, 2014
Smartphones are considered by some to be the anchor of modern shopping experiences. Smartphones are considered by
some to be the anchor of modern
shopping experiences.

Mobile devices have been a significant game-changer for many players in the retail business. Granting the ability to conduct shopping activities anywhere at any time, smartphones and tablets have become more than accessories to the shopping experience - many consumers view them as vital components that empower them to shop as they please.

In fact, recent research conducted by Deloitte Consulting found that three in four consumers use two or more channels to research and purchase items. For retailers, the more important statistic to note is that multichannel shoppers also tend to be bigger spenders - they are worth 208 percent more than single-channel shoppers.

For some merchants, though, mobile is still not given the priority it probably should have. One report released by Adobe last year found that 45 percent of businesses still do not have a mobile site or app. Considering many people use their phones to check prices, look up reviews, find nearby stores, check stock availability and take other similar actions, this can result in a substantial number of unsatisfied customers.

As Multichannel Merchant noted, retailers need to consider mobile devices as the starting point of the modern multichannel shopping experience.

"Mobile is the anchor of the omnichannel strategy because of its versatility in the form of communication as well as its prevalence in the consumer market," the news source explained. "Customers can use a mobile device anywhere, and have largely changed their behavior toward the medium when it comes to product information gathering, word-of-mouth interaction with friends and family, finding discounts and even making a purchase."

The strengths of mobile devices
Mobile provides retailers with a wealth of benefits, including:

  • Brand exposure. This is particularly the case with mobile apps that are permanently installed on consumers' phones. Every time people go into their smartphones' menus, they'll see the retailer's app sitting there. It's almost free advertising if merchants can convince their prospects to download their mobile applications.
  • More points of insight. Customer interactions fuel modern retail efforts - merchants can look at website browsing history, time spent on a product page, reviews written and other factors to help get a better picture of their customers. The addition of mobile devices to the mix gives savvy retailers another opportunity to watch their customers and collect data.
  • Stronger return on investment. "The real strength of interacting with customers where they are most active and most available is the potential increase in revenue it creates. Customers that engage and have a better experience are more open to increasing spending," Multichannel Merchant added.

The use of mobile devices benefits both customers and retailers. For retailers, it improves their ability to learn about customers and gives them more channels to drive revenue. For customers, mobile apps and stores give them more flexibility to shop however they want.

Making mobile a pivotal point of retail operations
Mobile represents a significant paradigm shift for many in the retail sector. Regardless of whether merchants have a mobile app or site, or whether it's something they're planning to do in the future, it's important to note that many retailers still don't know the best practices for mobile.

In the future, mobile will continue to evolve, empowering retailers to do bigger and better things while simultaneously offering customers a better experience. It's crucial that retailers always think critically about how they can utilize mobile devices to better satisfy their customers and improve their online stores.