How mobile phones have evolved over the past two decades.
From grey screens to HD displays, the evolution of mobile devices has come fast and furious. Keeping up with the latest trends in mobile technology is not only difficult for mobile experts but also online retailers. Before technologies such as handheld touch screens can even mature and reach the majority of U.S. consumers, they are slowly becoming yesterday’s news as three-dimensional smartphones are starting to be mass produced. Mobile is one of the few industries which is significantly different one year to the next.
So how can retailers keep up with the ever-changing mobile technology? Here are some suggestions…
- Drop the “e” from eCommerce and the “m” from mCommerce – Traditional online retail and mobile shopping are becoming one, with almost 30% of consumers using their mobile phone as their primary internet device. When thinking of an online strategy for an eCommerce site it’s no longer typical to view mobile as an extension of the site; for long-term plans given the shift in consumer behavior (94% of smartphone owners ages 18-29 access the internet via mobile devices) having a strong mobile presence is becoming more of a necessity and a core focus of site development.
- Use the sophistication of mobile analytics to your advantage – While web analytics can tell the story of consumer behavior on an eCommerce site, consumers can sometimes be “faceless” to online retailers and just an e-mail address on a list. Mobile devices can be a key catalyst to foster consumer trust as two-thirds of consumers who engage in mobile commerce are willing to share personal information with retailers for customized services and deals. Demographic information such as age and gender can be used to optimize remarketing and customer retention tactics which can help boost sales.
Google dominates mobile search as approximately 97% of mobile searches are conducted on Google.
- Make mobile advertising a core component of multi-channel strategy – There is simply not a faster growing segment of advertising than mobile advertising. With mobile search volume increasing 400% year-over-year in 2011 the anticipated shift in search to mobile devices has finally happened. The “showroom effect” where consumers not only browse in-store but also buy/compare prices is also very real as 25% of consumers who own smartphones have browsed products in-store for an online purchase. Mobile advertising can sway showroom shoppers in favor of online retailers, sometimes even within the stores of their competitors.
- Embrace the shift in e-mail marketing to mobile – One can argue no aspect of online marketing has been affected as much by mobile as e-mail marketing. An amazing 88% of smartphone owners in the United States check e-mail accounts on their phone daily, causing mobile e-mail open rates to skyrocket (in particular on weekends). The shift in consumer behavior regarding e-mail marketing has become so strong that approximately 60% of consumers would delete or close an e-mail which isn’t optimized for mobile devices and only 2% of e-mails opened on mobile devices are also reopened on other electronic devices.
The eCommerce industry is no longer waiting for mobile to arrive, as mobile now accounts for 13.3% of online sales as of March 2012, up from 7% in March 2011 and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. With PC technology from five years ago now compressed into a handheld touchscreen device, it only makes sense that consumers evolve their purchasing habits the same way phone manufacturers have evolved their products. Mobile is no longer a luxury or an after-thought, but a key component to a successful online retail initiative.