With a new year comes change, and it appears many companies are not prepared for the rapid change occurring in how consumers shop via their mobile devices.
While Forrester Research Inc. reports 42% of the global population will own a smartphone by the end of 2015, research firm International Data Corporation reports only 16% of enterprises have a mobile strategy.
“I think really just 2015—given how few enterprises have a mobile strategy—the understanding that mobile is upon us and the dynamics on how you engage is certainly something to think about,” says Tara Sporrer, vice president of marketing and sales operations at Moxie Software Inc., an e-commerce software firm.
Sporrer predicts retailers will become more aggressive in reaching out to mobile consumers before they click off a site, recognizing that conversion rates are typically 1% on smartphones compared with 3% on desktops. The big problems, Sporrer says, are that customers often can’t find what they want on a mobile site or it’s too difficult to checkout.
“If you get frustrated there is another mobile site right around the virtual corner that you can get to so easily,” Sporrer says.
Once a retailer determines when and why mobile consumers typically leave its mobile site, the retailer can address that problem by making crucial information more readily available—such as a returns policy—or give it to consumers with an alert to help keep them on the page. Sporrer likens the personalized alert to an in-store employee who asks shoppers what they are looking for and puts them on the right path. Adding live chat, which lets the shopper ask questions directly to a retailer’s customer service agents, also helps, she says.
Based on where a consumer is on a web site and other data a retailer has, such as if the consumer clicked to the page from an e-mail link, the retailers can offer relevant content designed to keep the shopper from leaving. In fact, 35% of consumers will click when a retailer offers help via a live chat, Sporrer says.
“Customers like to be asked if they want help,” she says. “You need to engage customers on their mobile devices, because simply, that’s where they are.”
NN4M, a mobile technology firm, is also predicting retailers will focus on personalized messaging in 2015.
“Retailers must make use of the tools at their fingertips to follow individual behavior across various channels and connect with customers when and how they prefer,” the NN4M report reads.
The NN4M top retail mobile prediction for 2015 is a surge in consumers paying in the physical world with their mobile devices.
“Mobile payments are primed to be the next major defining moment in the world of payments, signaling the decline of the plastic credit card and the rise of the virtual card,” the report reads.
Between Apple Pay, PayPal, and payment apps such as Venmo, Square Cash and Google Wallet, Forrester predicts by 2019 U.S. mobile payments will increase from $52 billion to $142 billion. That hardly signals the end of plastic, however: U.S. consumers spent $4.6 trillion with credit and debit cards in 2013 out of total consumer payments of $8.6 trillion, according to payment industry newsletter The Nilson Report.
If customers demand mobile payment capabilities from retailers, stores will have to adjust to cater to their needs, NN4M says. A lot will hinge on whether Apple Pay succeeds, NN4M says.
Also in 2015, Sporrer predicts a smoothing out of the process on mobile when the retailer interacts with the consumer before purchasing and after purchasing. While often the sales and service aspects to a company are siloed, Sporrer predicts companies will adopt a consistent approach. For example, if mobile consumers are used to live chatting before a purchase, companies should offer live chat after a purchase to suggest a nearby physical store to pick up the purchase.
Besides a consistent approach on the web site, NN4M predicts consistency across all outlets to provide a “seamless shopping experience through all channels, tracking connected customers as they move between desktop, in-store, mobile web and mobile app.” The firm calls this closing the omnichannel gap.
NN4m also predicts more activity in augmented reality, wearables and location-based marketing in 2015.
Follow mobile business journalist April Dahlquist, associate editor, mobile, at Internet Retailer, at @MobileInsiderAD.Favorite