In 2018, there's one truth all e-commerce retailers should know: if you don't have a mobile presence, you're likely on the fast track to irrelevance.
In 2016 alone, shoppers spent more than over $1.9 trillion on digital purchases worldwide, and research indicates that about 14% of all sales will occur online by 2020.1 And the balance between desktop and mobile purchases may begin to shift rapidly towards mobile. By 2020, mobile transactions in the U.S., for example, will comprise 45% of the $632 billion in total U.S. e-commerce sales.2 Globally, e-commerce sales are projected to reach $4 trillion globally by 2020.1
The rise of mobile e-commerce (known as m-commerce) is inevitable. Here's how you can optimize your business to take advantage of it.
Ensure Your E-commerce Site is Responsive
The mobile version of your website must be responsive. Nothing can be more off-putting to customers than a site that doesn't render properly on their smartphone screens. Slow loading times, broken product links and poorly sized photos are all potential conversion-killers, so invest in responsive design ASAP.
You only have seconds to hook visitors once they land on your site, so you cannot afford to let design or programming mistakes derail your mobile experience. If your site design is several years old or you've invested in desktop design at the expense of mobile, it's time to give your site an update.
Launch a Storefront App
“There's an app for that" became something of a punchline following the advent of smartphones. But now it's an m-commerce imperative. While having a mobile-ready site is essential, particularly for engaging new consumers who found you through search engine results, a standalone app allows you to create a much more robust user experience.
Once a user downloads the app and creates an account or logs in, they can open and use it any time. The app's database can maintain a record of their purchases and browsing history, thus allowing you to customize your marketing messages to their tastes.
A well-developed app also offers more than product listings and promotions. It provides fun, interactive features that entice customers to use it on a regular basis. Such elements might include virtual dressing rooms or features that allow users to “test" different shades of make-up before they buy. You might incorporate engaging video content or articles to deepen the brand experience or create a VR game people can play in the app.
However you choose to develop it, the app environment grants you far more autonomy and creative flexibility than mobile sites alone.
Create SEO-friendly Content
As consumers become more tech-savvy, they also become more adept at sniffing out insincerity. With so many brands promising personalized experiences, customers don't want to be sold to. They want to be wooed.
Content marketing is one way to do that. Publishing articles, videos and infographics that educate and entertain is an effective way to provide extra value to your audience. Instead of merely pushing your products, you demonstrate a deep understanding of their needs and interests, and that can make them more excited to buy from you.
But to really make an impact, develop your content with SEO in mind. The usual standards apply:
- Integrate relevant keywords organically
- Use semantic writing to win over search engine algorithms
- Keep paragraphs short and scannable
- Make sure page speeds are as fast as possible
Enable scrolling features rather than forcing users to click multiple links just to finish one article, and test every piece of content on mobile browsers. Buttons and clickable features that work well on desktops may not play as well on mobile. Frequent testing will help you catch any elements that are incompatible with mobile or that detract from the content experience.
Leverage Automation Tools and Artificial Intelligence
The retail world moves faster all the time. If you want to stand out from your competitors, you need more help to handle all of your customer service, marketing, advertising and sales needs. Fortunately, we live in the age of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), which means there are plenty of tools to give you a hand.
When it comes to advertising, programmatic ad buying can enable you to move quickly on lucrative opportunities. Rather than relying on your ad team to hammer out deals and make minute-to-minute decisions on ad spend, programmatic systems will handle those tasks for you in real time. The ability to make lightning quick moves is vital to capturing consumers' attention on mobile.
Advanced ad systems use behavioral data to target individual customers with ads that are most relevant to their interests. They also help you see which users viewed your site but navigated away before buying anything, and they're able to retarget them on other sites with ads for the exact products they were browsing.
AI platforms also enhance m-commerce efforts. AI can monitor and analyze customers' buying and browsing patterns and recommend products likely to interest them. These platforms also provide important feedback on sales performance and market trends, and they're capable of autonomously adjusting marketing campaign spend to maximize your ROI on different channels.
Offer Seamless, Secure Payment Options
All of your optimization efforts will be for naught if you don't offer a more seamless, secure payment systems. Security is a particular concern for most consumers, as they fear that their financial data will be exposed to criminals if they pay for goods and services via their smartphones.
U.S. consumers have cited a lack of confidence in the security of mobile payment methods as a primary reason for not using mobile payments.3 If you want to potentially increase mobile conversions, implement a secure payment structure and educate consumers on how you're protecting them.
Conquering consumers' security fears and catering to their check-out preferences will be essential if your business wants to capture a piece of the growing mobile payments pie. U.S. mobile payments are on pace to grow at an 80% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2020, topping $503 billion within the next two years.4
To capitalize on the mobile opportunity, find out which types of payment your customers prefer. Identify the most common credit cards or payment vendors they use, and make sure your mobile site or app accommodates those.
Provide the option to save their payment data as well. The last thing you want is for someone to reach the checkout page, only to abandon it because they had to get up and look for their credit card. Make it easy for them to shop and pay in one user-friendly visit.
Implementing these changes today could help you attract and retain m-commerce consumers. More importantly, it could position you for ongoing success as people become more comfortable with mobile shopping. By preparing your company now, you'll be more agile and equipped to respond to your audience's mobile demands in the future.
The information provided herein is sponsored by Discover® Global Network. It is intended for informational purposes, and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.
1 “Worldwide Retail Commerce Sales Will Reach $1.915 Trillion This Year,” eMarketer, August 2016.
2 “The Mobile Checkout Report,” Business Insider, February 2016.
3 “The State of Digital and Mobile Commerce,” Mercator Advisory Group, May 2017.
4 “The Mobile Payments Report,” Business Insider, June 2016.