2013 Seasonal Success: Making Mobile Commerce a Smart Buy


mobileShoppingAmidst the dust that has settled from the 2012 holiday shopping season, there are some very interesting trends that are indications of things to come in 2013. In particular, the mobile commerce world gained significant ground and mobile shoppers worldwide lit up commerce sites like never before.

A quick recap:

  • Black Friday sales were $11.2 billion, 1.2% lower than the previous year’s results.
  • Overall online sales were up 24% to just over $1 billion and mobile sales were up 14.4%.
  • Thanksgiving day online sales were up 17.8% and mobile was up 28.5% that day.
  • Cyber Monday sales were $1.46 billion, a healthy 17% increase from the prior year.

It’s obvious that mobile commerce usage is increasing faster than overall commerce. Mobile currently accounts for 17% of all eCommerce and is projected to reach 37% by September of 2013 with tablets having a 12% higher average order size. That puts potential mobile commerce for 2013 somewhere in the $6 billion range. Wow.

Of consumers that have a mobile device, Deloitte says that 27% will use the device while shopping for the holidays. 67% of these shoppers will use the devices to find store locations, 59% to compare prices, 46% to check product availability, 45% to shop at online stores, and 40% will scan bar codes. Mobile shoppers have become the smart buyers when it comes to commerce.

All the statistical facts and figures aside, when an eCommerce provider – which your business probably is, if you’re reading this – begins to think about mobile or enhancing their mobile online presence, there are many paths from which to choose. But before worrying about specific implementation details, the real key to mobile is the person holding the device. That’s right, the customer.

Given that 90% of people are always within arms reach of their favorite mobile device (I’ll bet you looked and it was there, right?), give due attention to mobile makes a lot of sense. If you want easy access to your customers, pick a channel to which your customer’s have easy access. But before going mobile for the sake of mobile, there are several things to consider:

How does your customer currently interact with your available channels?  Taking a good look at how your customers are interacting with your web site, your mobile site or your current mobile app can tell you a lot. For example, if 10% of the visitors to your site a

re using an iPhone, but your conversion rate for that group is significantly less than the conversion rate for visitors to your web site, there’s an issue worth investigating. Watching how a customer enters your “store” is the first indications of how they want to be engaged.

What currently keeps your customers engaged with your brand online? An important aspect of consumer engagement is measuring return visitors and customers

and monitoring how often they return and how things like average order size change over time. You’ll hear a lot of folks say that a good app will keep people coming back, but I disagree. In fact, one statistic shows that most brand-related apps are deleted from mobile devices within a few weeks.

The most engaging apps follow two rules:

  • Content is King and
  • Context is the Queen and sits by his side telling him what to do.

When I power up the Amazon mobile app, I’m almost always presented with new content such as suggestions and daily deals, and critically, am presented this information in the context of what I have purchased before. If it wasn’t for that context, the King would have an empty reception hall. How best to interact with your customers depends on your brand, your customer’s preferences and, to a large degree, your customer’s historical behavior.

What behaviors do your current customers exhibit that you would like to leverage?  Speaking of customer behavior, do you know what most of your current customers are up to on your mobile or web site?  Are you tracking analytics that make sense in the context of the customer or are you still considering page views a meaningful indicator of conversion?  Some things to consider when considering implementing or updating a mobile app include:

  • Know whether your customers are comparison shoppers:  If so, enable things like bar code scanning so customers can “showroom” in your store or from a competitors store. Trying to limit consumer behavior in this regard will backfire in today’s environment of easy information access.
  • Do your customers engage others in the shopping process? Enabling a device camera, easy email or social media sharing capability will not only let a customer each out to friends and family, but will also tell you what items they have the most interest in purchasing. This could be used to push coupons or other specials (cross-sells, up-sells) to customers, perhaps while they are still in your store.

How does your current mobile implementation, if any, compare to the marketplace and to what your competitors have to offer?  While I think that a eCommerce company should be customer focused first, knowing what is currently working for others can be a good place to start when looking for successful mobile ideas.

One of the biggest dangers lurking in the technology world is the “me too” mentality. It’s important to consider industry trends, customer behavior, available technology, and competitive analysis in a holistic way and in the right context for your business and your customers. Understanding the impact an implementation may have on your customer base and your revenue before investing in mobile is more than a good idea. It’s a smart buy.

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