Bridging The Mobile Gap

Mobile ShopThis quarter, we hit two milestones in retail. Target, Best Buy and Walmart all had 50% or more of their website visitors coming from mobile devices. And the overall time shoppers spent on retail sites using mobile devices crossed the 60% threshold. As mobile initiates more online traffic, though, retailers need to contend with a gap between shopping and buying that could sink their brands.

While the majority of retail site traffic now comes from mobile, the overwhelming majority of purchases happen via web browsers on desktops and laptops. In fact, consumers are four times more likely to purchase off a desktop than a smartphone. The main reason: Retailers make it hard for people to activate in mobile time (think seconds, not minutes).

Mobile sites are rarely optimized for the tasks that shoppers want to do on mobile devices. Many are still built for browsing. When you’re in line at the bank with two minutes before you get to the teller, you need a bite-sized shopping moment. And you want even more immediacy if you’re standing in a store aisle.

Fully 60% of the top 500 e-commerce sites deliver a mobile experience via a separate website with an address ( Retailers got into mobile sites because they were quick, simple, outsourced fixes for the first mobile visitors. But sites simply don’t work for modern multi-device shoppers. When shoppers find products they want to buy on sites, they often mail the page to themselves to complete the transaction on a bigger, higher-resolution device. They get a giant version of the mobile page, which is an unsatisfying experience. Worse, activating on the mobile site itself means a lot of typing – particularly entering payment information – that no one wants to do.

Retailers need one site that works for all visitors, regardless of device. While the creative department will argue for responsive design, retailers need to resist. Responsive sounds great because it sends complete data stores over the Internet and lets the device sort out data to give consumers the same experience everywhere, every time, on every device. But that makes it slow. And slow kills.

Instead, think relevant design. Give people the right experience, relevant to wherever they are, by interpreting the data they’ve shared explicitly and implicitly in shopping. For example, store their payment information so they don’t have to retype it every time they buy a product, or let them use their favorite mobile wallet to bypass ever having to enter payment information. That one feature can generate 20% more conversions.

Similarly, asking fewer questions will boost conversion. Everyone in the organization wants to add data points to the buying process, so they get a complete picture of customers at the beginning. That’s a sales killer akin to proposing on the first date. When GoGo Wireless debuted on planes, customers had to fill out 22 information fields. Although many wanted Wi-Fi, few would endure the hassle. When GoGo reduced to eight fields, sales doubled. When they cut to four fields, sales doubled again. GoGo realized that getting a few answers at a time would build a wealth of customer data over the course of many satisfying experiences.

Finally, extend mobile in-store to speed the sales process. For example, Target alerts shoppers to deals of the day in that store. Last Black Friday, fully 10% of Target’s e-commerce sales came from shoppers on mobile devices inside a store. Walmart invites shoppers into store mode where you can find out if items are in stock and get step-by-step directions to their places in the aisles. Macy’s uses the Google Maps blue dot to direct shoppers between departments that can be several floors apart. All of these measures speed the delivery of a more relevant experience.

Retailers need to clear the path to commerce with mobile. That means eliminating steps and time that keep people from completing transactions in the moment. It means doing more, so customers have to do less.

[This article originally appeared on mediapost]

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