Retailers that are trying to navigate the changes brought about by mobile commerce likely have their hands full.
According to a report from eMarketer, mobile purchases are expected to account for the majority of e-commerce sales by 2021. Meanwhile, mobile sales solutions are transforming the brick-and-mortar retail space and raising customer expectations for the kind of experience that businesses should offer.
Between the changing trends and new technology, marketers will be busy upgrading their digital strategy. Effective retail marketing will need to find a way to leverage digital channels for improved customer engagement while better understanding the way people shop in a mobile world. Here are some key trends (and changes) to keep in mind.
Mobile Optimization Is Key
If retailers aren't building their own mobile-optimized experiences, they're in for a world of hurt. The eMarketer report also noted that 44 percent of customers will make mobile purchases in 2017 — and showrooming, or visiting a store to research a product before purchasing it online, is very popular with customers younger than 55.
Every retailer needs a mobile-optimized website. However, a mobile retail shopping app can also be a good investment for larger retail chains, providing a better user experience and a broader range of features. Ultimately, retailers will also want to invest in mobile point-of-sale and mobile payment support technologies, optimizing both their online and offline presence for mobile customers as well as their buying habits.
Smartphones Are a Marketing Asset
If you already have a mobile website or app in place, you can use this digital channel to launch a number of effective marketing strategies. Where mobile retail apps are concerned, promotions can be delivered based on any number of behavioral triggers, including store visits, shopping history and a customer's location within a store. Retailers can even make time-sensitive offers to prompt impulse purchases. Meanwhile, push notifications can remind users about items in their digital shopping cart or mobile-only sale opportunities.
Where mobile commerce is concerned, marketers need to use mobile channels to engage shoppers, build engaging experiences and establish a deeper relationship.
Retailers Must Invest in Omnichannel
As WWD noted, both marketing strategy and overall retail business strategy need to embrace a new way of understanding the customer path to purchase. It no longer takes place through a single channel, such as on a desktop computer or in a store. Customers use a variety of channels to make a single purchase, and the path looks different for everyone. A shopper may visit a store to look at a product, compare prices on their mobile device and then make the purchase on a desktop.
Retail marketers should pursue a marketing analytics solution that can attribute across multiple channels, making omnichannel shopping easier to see. Ideally, this should also be paired with real-time store inventories integrated with mobile, so customers can check on updated availability.
Mobile commerce may hit its tipping point in a few years, but it already represents a significant share of the e-commerce economy. If you're planning a mobile strategy for the future, you need to start now.