Retailers better get their mobile marketing strategies in place as more online shoppers are expected to do their holiday shopping using their mobile phones this year. Finchannel.com reports that mobile marketing will definitely play a crucial role in providing shoppers with “a new level of convenience” as e-commerce sites are expected to “siphon business away from brick-and-mortar retailers”.
Based on a September 2012 survey by ecommerce service provider MarketLive, twice as many online shoppers plan to buy Christmas presents using a mobile device this year compared to 2011. The advantage of being able to make cost comparisons is apparently one of the main reasons why, as the survey showed. It seems customers much prefer to find the best prices for any specific product before they make a final purchase. Another reason why mobile shopping is such a hit is that it allows shoppers to look for hard-to-find products they don’t normally find in stores.
For the same reason, consumers are still expected to flock to e-commerce sites over the holiday season. The survey shows that 33% of consumers plan to do ‘most’ or ‘all’ of their holiday shopping via online retailers this year compared to 25% last year, while 16% plan to do ‘most’ or ‘all’ of their holiday gift-buying via their smartphone or tablet device — a huge jump from last year’s 3%.
But although more retailers are going mobile, broader acceptance will still take time. According to a Nielsen survey, traditional brick-and-mortar stores are still deemed the simplest, safest, and most secure way to shop. From over 3,300 respondents, only 38% say mobile shopping is the most convenient.
It cannot be denied however that shopping online or through mobile phones and tablets will remain an extremely desirable option for the average shopper who wishes to save time, avoid crowds, and get the best value for their money amidst the upcoming holiday rush. Online shopping also allows you to find ideal, personalized presents with the help of reviews and recommendations by other shoppers.
How Mobile-Friendly is your eCommerce Site?
Taking the examples of successful mobile-optimized sites, mobile marketing must promote simple, straight-to-the-point navigation to make it easy for mobile phone users to find whatever they need on your website. Heavy images and complex layouts don’t work well with small screens and will only hamper the experience so it is best to stick to the basics. Place the call-to-action button where it is easily seen and keep written text to a minimum – including keywords.
It also helps to remember that there are many different kinds of mobile devices and you should not have your programmers optimize your site only for iPhone nor any single type of device. Using an m.dot URL (e.g. http://m.website.com) is also a must for mobile-optimized e-commerce sites because it tells Google to index your mobile website separately from your standard site. And perhaps one of the best ways to make your ecommerce site mobile friendly is through constant testing and gathering of feedback.
Google has GoMo which lets you see for free how your site appears on mobile and gives it a mobile-friendliness rating based on loading time, text visibility, navigation, hierarchy, and accessibility. However, it is still your customers who can provide the most valuable feedback. They can tell you about their experiences browsing your ecommerce site on mobile, so it is best to listen to their complaints, if there’s any, ask for their feedback, and make the necessary changes.
Do You Need a Dedicated App?
One important decision to make for online retailers is whether to develop an app or to optimize their websites for mobile phones. Generally, mobile-optimized retail sites are more preferred than mobile apps but consumers who use mobile apps tend to spend more time using the app than they would on the retail website.
To determine which would work best for your business, you need to (1) determine which platforms your customers use and (2) find out what your customers expect to get out of your app or website.
Developing a dedicated application for Android, iOS, and others is usually more expensive but it would work best if your transactions require a smooth access to data stored on a handheld device and connectivity with related applications. On the other hand, a mobile-optimized site would help your mobile marketing campaign reach a wider audience and maintain a seamless experience across all mobile platforms.