The proliferation of smartphones and tablet devices has un-tethered consumers from their computers and allowed them to stay connected wherever they are -- including when they're on vacation. That said, retailers need to invest in platforms that allow them to stay in touch with consumers even when they're taking time off. One way to enhance the experience for the consumer is to deliver targeted product recommendations across all on-the-go devices. More and more, I've seen retail clients ask for help personalizing their customer experience across all touch points, with the priority being smartphones and tablets.
Retailers should take advantage of the fact that consumers are frequently in a new location while on their vacation. For instance, a consumer might check out a favorite ticketing retailer and, through a recommendation, find that his or her favorite rock band is playing right around the corner from the summer beach house rental. Since the ticketing retailer was able to use the consumer's current location data and understand that person's preferences, it is more likely to draw in the consumer.
Another scenario plays out like this. Unbeknownst to the yogi who makes his students take a strict vow to give up all technology to find inner peace, a consumer far away from home logs on to the web via his or her iPad or smartphone while at a mountaintop yoga retreat. The consumer goes back to a favorite online store that sold the yoga gear taken to the retreat, logs in using his or her user name and password, and finds recommendations for a cushioned yoga mat, some high-density yoga blocks, and a few DVDs. That person readily adds them to the shopping cart and order so he or she can keep practicing when the trip to the retreat in the mountains is but a distant memory.
When it comes to product recommendations on-the-go, retailers need to understand that providing recommendations on smartphones or tablets is hard enough -- but delivering a more personalized, engaging experience to consumers is even harder. To do this, retailers need to keep in mind some preventative measures to assure recommendations presented to consumers on-the-go make sense and get noticed.
Make personalized recommendations readily available
Similar to online, try to make recommendations prevalent -- but don't go overboard given the small screen size, or your mobile e-commerce platform will suffer.
Make use of mobile data
It would also behoove companies to use the data collected to provide accurate recommendations for other purposes. For example, data from retargeting on-the-go consumers can be used to launch new targeting campaigns. Data gained from mobile recommendations could potentially influence future mobile display ads. The goal behind this process is to make your efforts more targeted with each on-the-go interaction -- from pre-purchase to mobile shopping cart transaction. If both targeting and retargeting work together, then both efforts become more effective over time.
Smaller screen = bigger effort
Companies must recognize that smartphones and tablets have characteristically small screens. That means you need to maximize value of what is shown (by providing recommendations that deliver relevance) and make navigation easier.
Support virtual window shopping
This can be done by showing recommendations that provide value to your consumers. By making it easy to see and navigate to something that they'll be interested in, they'll be more likely to stay on your mobile site. This is vital on the small screen where session lengths and real estate are both compressed.
Understand that every touch point is different
It's important to recognize differences in behavior by touch point. People might buy different things depending on where they're browsing (e.g., mobile shoppers might purchase DVDs or clothes, but they most likely will not purchase furniture or appliances unless they know exactly what they are looking for and are doing price comparison).
Make it as easy as possible
Help customers complete their purchases. Personalized recommendations can only go so far to engage customers and lead them to purchase. But if the check-out process is overly complicated or time-consuming (especially while on-the-go), you'll get a lot of potential buyers jumping ship. Invest in making it easy to check-out and assure that recommendations are pervasive throughout the checkout process, including highlighting cross-sell items and complementary goods.
It's all about location
Take into account location. Based on your business, location-based recommendations might actually elicit increased action. It's vital to understand how location can impact your business and how you can push recommendations that are sensitive to the location of each individual consumer.
Millie Park is vice president and general manager of ChoiceStream CONNECT, ChoiceStream's suite of recommendation solutions.
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"A smart phone isolated with a map" image via Shutterstock.