Last year was the year that shopping on mobile devices became the norm. The latest Pew Internet and American Life Project research (2012) shows 88 percent of American adults have a cell phone, and among cell phone owners, 53 percent use a smartphone. Today, more than 50 percent of U.S. subscribers regularly browse the web on their mobile phones. Google predicts mobile web traffic will surpass PC web traffic this year. It won't take long before smartphones and tablets dominate retail sales over laptops and desktops. That's why merchants must prepare now to accommodate mobile shoppers.
I'd like to review some relevant mobile trends and offer tips for mobile optimization, as well as automated solutions for multiple-location merchants (mobile location finder). We'll start with the mobile stats that impact internet sales below and follow with optimization tips for making your site mobile, SEO, and user friendly.
Proliferation and effectiveness of mobile devices
- Over 1 billion of the worlds 4+ billion mobile devices are smartphones and 3 billion are SMS enabled
- In the U.S. 9 out of 10 people are mobile subscribers
- Seventy-nine percent of smartphone owners use their phones for shopping
- In 2011, over 50 percent of all local searches were conducted from a mobile device
- Tablets are replacing laptops and will total more than 100 million globally by year end 2012
- Tablets made major inroads in retail -- 77 percent of all mobile traffic is from tablets
- Mobile ads are four to five times more effective than online ads
- By 2014, it's estimated mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage
- Eighty-six percent of mobile users are watching TV while using a mobile phone
- On average, Americans spend 2.7 hours per day socializing on mobile devices
- Twenty-nine percent of mobile users would scan a mobile tag to get coupons for instant store use
- Mobile search has had 30x growth in the last 3 years
Changes in consumer shopping behavior
It's interesting to note how consumer behavior is changing when shopping with a mobile device. It's common for consumers to use their devices for guidance in making purchasing decisions. Not only that, retail employees are now using mobile devices to check inventory and pricing.
Motorola Solutions 2011 Holiday Shopping Survey shows that consumers and retail employees want to use smartphones to find product information inside stores.
This trend of using mobile devices for pricing, product reviews, and item availability before making purchase decisions was highest among consumers aged 25-35, according to the report, which also found:
- Forty-three percent of shoppers use a mobile app to find items in store aisles
- Nearly 11 percent of consumers use smartphones in store for making purchase decisions
- Retail employees (71 percent) want to use store-provided mobile devices to check inventory for shoppers
The report concluded: "The majority of retail associates feel they would benefit from a widely deployed mobile device with inventory and price-checking applications."
It also appears that mobile phone apps are emerging as a key shopping tool. While not replacing the clipped coupon, mobile apps are widely used by consumers looking for the best bargains.
The importance of providing a good customer experience
The average consumer can use multiple devices or browsers during the purchase cycle. For that reason, e-commerce merchants must ensure a good consumer experience on all devices, both on their websites and with their advertising campaigns.
When it comes to advertising, web merchants must plan targeted campaigns to reach shoppers on mobile devices. Text messaging (SMS) is one option for providing instant communication to shoppers on the go.
It's important to offer your customers value with a strong call-to-action enticing them to buy. One way to do that is to reach out to your customers once a month with mobile coupons, discounts or other incentives and rewards.
Tailoring your advertising campaigns to mobile users is very important. Reach your customers in a way that's convenient for their devices. Use short text, as query length is shorter on mobile.
- Text messages are read over 96 percent of the time and get eight times the results of email
- Craft mobile-only campaigns that are focused with unique offers
- Schedule text messages to coordinate with important events and promotions
- Send automated follow up messages when mobile users engage in a transaction
- Reach mobile users as they approach your store using geo-locating technology
Before you advertise, ensure you have a mobile friendly site. As more consumers use mobile devices, e-commerce merchants with a user-friendly mobile site will see conversion rates double their previous rates with a site optimized for mobile.