There are only a few weeks left in this holiday shopping season, yet the key lessons of 2016 are already clear. The number one lesson is that shoppers are, finally, all about mobile. Over the past few years we’ve watched mobile browsing grow and develop into mobile shopping, and this year (as we predicted!) the mobile register finally started ringing with conversions.
Rise of Mobile
This year mobile accounted for 22 percent of all U.S. e-commerce revenue during Cyber Week. Think about that: Despite the challenges of screen size, input and payment, customers spent almost a quarter of their online dollars via mobile. Tie that shift together with the overall trend from in-store to online, as well as the progression from Black Friday to Cyber Week, and it’s time for marketers to completely rethink their approach to the season. From advertising to promotion to experience, it’s a whole new game.
Mobile at Home
Let’s focus on how to win customers through mobile. First, forget your assumptions about people shopping on mobile when they’re out and about and looking for a deal. Yes, those visitors are still important. But people are now shopping on their mobiles at home! Mobile conversion rates generally peak in the evening, from 7-10 p.m., when people are at home, probably watching TV (which suggests great cross-channel promotional opportunities, but that’s for another article). This year, mobile conversion rates were higher on Thanksgiving than on Black Friday — by an astonishing 115 percent. You can take advantage of that spike by offering personalized promotions such as limited-time offers or free shipping.
While smartphone screens have grown, they are still small. Despite that challenge, consumers are choosing the convenience and familiarity of their phones for shopping. It’s your job to optimize that experience for them, given the tight constraints. Presentation has to be streamlined and you have to prioritize the most relevant products. The average time-on-site for mobile is shorter than on desktop, by 5-10 percent. You have to grab shoppers’ attention — quickly. Clickable areas, social sharing buttons and navigation must be large and clear, while pop-ups are almost always a distracting annoyance. Badges that indicate best sellers, shipping deadlines and special sizes catch a shopper’s eye and encourage the buying process. When you’re designing for mobile, the watchword is simplicity.
Simplicity should be applied to your mobile payments as well. Shoppers can be very reluctant to enter payment information on mobile, both because it’s a pain and because it may feel insecure. Retailers using standard payment options typically see a lot of shopping and not a lot of buying. To get over this hurdle, prominently feature icons for popular payment methods such as PayPal and MasterPass. Or, better yet, take advantage of truly mobile-friendly options like Apple Pay and Android Pay that make checking out easier than it is on desktop: click, click, fingerprint, done!
From here forward, clean, easy-to-use mobile experiences are the cost of entry. To move to the head of the pack, you need to recognize the unique opportunity and unique challenge that mobile presents to every retailer. Our mobile devices are very personal. They are with us all the time. We hold them in our hands, like they are extensions of us. When we pass them to someone else we feel a slight twinge, as if we were handing over a bit of ourselves. These are truly personal devices, in a way computers never will be.
Therein lies both the opportunity and the challenge. How do we relate to our customers in a very personal way, presaging their desires yet never seeming invasive? We need to create experiences that reflect everything we know about each person, in each moment. If I’m petite, I’d like you to default to petite sizes, please. If I’m a skier, I’d like to explore ski destinations. If I have a short attention span, just give me pictures, prices and average review. But if I linger, give me full descriptions and reviews. If I’ve been to the desktop site earlier in the day, show me what I was browsing there. If I’m near a store, highlight products in stock there. But don’t do any of that in a way that makes me feel followed or watched.
We should meet these same standards on the desktop too, but it’s more critical on mobile where the customer’s attention is fleeting and navigation is difficult. A personal mobile experience is a great mobile experience is a converting mobile experience.
If you’re quick about it, you might be able to sneak in some adjustments to your site to reflect these mobile realities. If not, it is critical that you get ready for even more mobile next year. Make that experience personal, and you’ll enjoy conversions in addition to turkey on Thanksgiving next year!
Lucinda Duncalfe is CEO of Monetate. A seasoned entrepreneur and innovator, Lucinda has proven experience building mature sales and operations cultures, and developing product strategies that accelerate company growth. She has served on Monetate’s Board of Directors for the past seven years, and helped Monetate create and establish a multi-billion dollar market for digital personalization.