Mobile Shopping: Worth the Fuss


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New York and Company
Source: New York & Company

Mobile commerce currently accounts for one third of ecommerce sales, with projections for mobile-generated revenue to increase 177 percent to $109.44 billion in 2016 from 2015. Add to that the proliferation of cheaper smartphones and 5G network bandwidth just around the corner, the retail sector must adapt to accommodate the mobile transition.

But there’s a fault line in these figures. They are a last-click analysis that only paints a picture of the user who completes a purchase on their mobile device. While this is a measure of sales and reason enough for every retailer to develop a mobile presence, they tell us little about the real consumer path-to-purchase.

Recent research by GfK indicates that up to 40 percent of consumers start their retail journey on one device and complete it on another — as many as three others. Mobile has produced a situation where consumers are, in effect, much more spontaneous. They snack on content, browsing and shopping or researching and checking inventory levels, to meet a need that is felt in the moment.

As a consequence, grabbing consumers’ attention and immersing them in your products right at the moment that they land on your site by being bold and engaging with rich content is absolutely vital. Your content also needs to be immediately shoppable so that with a single click or touch, the user is already into a retail journey.

The Millennial Factor

As digital natives, Millennials are at the forefront of technology adoption. Today, 85 percent of young adults own a smartphone, compared with 64 percent of all American adults. Mobile-only Internet usage is becoming the norm. In fact, 21 percent of Millennials are no longer using desktop computers to go online. Moreover, their expectation of a mobile shopping experience is one that is free from complex navigation and that brings a simple user journey in to play.

Understanding how Millennials use mobile and attracting them as customers today helps to cement long-term customer relationships and protect future revenues. For example, this market segment of 79 million people represents a staggering $170 billion in purchasing power.

When asked what makes their generation unique, Millennials ranked “technology use” number one (24 percent). More than a third of them shop on mobile devices at least once a month, and half use mobile for shopping outside the store. Surprisingly, 52 percent say that a brand’s use of technology is more important than the brand name itself. With leadership from Millennials, mobile is clearly the future.

The Challenge of Development

While Android and iOS have become the dominant platforms, multiple operating systems, browser options, hardware vendors, and technology standards make channel-agnostic development difficult. Add to that the complexities of any given path-to-purchase and the shift to mobile is challenging.

Smartphones and tablets present a different canvas to work with in designing shopping experiences from traditional desktop. The top complaint found in Bizrate’s survey of more than 100,000 mobile shoppers was too much pinching and zooming — a hangover of trying to replicate the detail of a regular website experience on mobile.

Consumers evidently don’t want to read product information at length; rather they want a visual, touchable experience that inspires them and provides an easy route to the checkout, in that moment or at some time later on a different device.

Retailers have addressed this with responsive Web design, allowing publishers to tailor experiences for different devices. While they take more time to develop, responsive sites achieve 11 percent more conversions than non-responsive sites, according to Aberdeen Group.

On one hand there are more opportunities to engage, yet getting the retail experience right across different devices is an increasingly complex proposition. Add to that the need to update sites with any level of frequency and the complexities quickly multiply. In the fashion and apparel industry for example, presenting the latest or seasonal trends in a timely manner is essential.

However, coding a responsive design, with experiences optimized for various screen sizes, often means it takes longer to get new looks online. Put that together with planning a collection, organizing expensive content assets like photography, design and iterating on that, then publishing becomes a matter of planning months and months in advance.

Shoppable Content

Embracing the mobile transition and appealing to the tech savvy Millennial market means creating a consistent brand experience regardless of device, location, operating system and screen size, and publishing content faster and more frequently.

Meeting these needs means using technology that allows in-house teams (with no coding experience) to storyboard and build experiences visually — using drag and drop tools and a design canvass that is intuitive and simple to operate.

Bringing these tools in to play empowers the user to easily publish content like lookbooks, video and seasonal trend guides and makes the content elements shoppable by adding multiple links to different elements in an image, connecting the shopper directly to a product splash page or a “buy now” button that links to the checkout.

Deploying shoppable content right at the start of the user journey boosts engagement and sales. Neiman Marcus, for example, has seen a significant increase in customer engagement metrics after deploying shoppable experiences, including conversion rates skyrocketing to 10 percent (where the industry average is 2.5-3 percent).

Importantly, the cycle from creative design to publishing can take just days or even hours rather than weeks and months.

Closing Thoughts

By focusing on how consumers use their devices and providing a simple yet immersive user experience, it is possible to grab attention straightaway, compelling the user to dwell and making them more likely to purchase, in that moment or later, on another device.

Is mobile worth the fuss? Absolutely yes, says New York & Company, a leading fashion retailer that sees 67 percent of their weekly site traffic coming from mobile devices. By empowering their team to design engaging mobile-first experiences without any need for code, they’ve increased their creative output 4x and reduced their time to market from three months to only hours. How long will it take for the rest of the retail industry to question how they can do the same?

Brian Rigney
As Zmags' CEO, Brian has over twenty years' experience leading high performing, entrepreneurial teams in launching new businesses and bringing innovative new products to market. Prior to Zmags, Brian was vice president sales and business development for CashStar, where he led the sales and business development strategy. He also is the founder and CEO of BlueTarp Financial, Inc., a breakthrough information and payments company for the construction industry. Brian has a bachelor's degree from Colby College and a master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh.


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