Dear Retailer, go big in mobile shopping

Johannes Dornisch

Lead User Experience Designer

11 min read

It’s already March and New Year’s resolutions are way behind us. All the big ideas and future plans are already gathering dust in the planning folder and the daily grind has caught up with us again. Well, that’s a big mistake when it comes to e-commerce. Without investing in great mobile apps there’s no looking forward and here’s why.

Mobile channel rules without question

At first glance, online trade appears to be stable. According to PWC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019, 31 percent of consumers worldwide shop online weekly or more often. Globally, retail e-commerce sales are on the rise, but the growth rate varies heavily depending on the region. In Western Europe, the e-commerce industry is very saturated and its growth – reaching 10.2 percent in 2019 – slows down year-over-year. Half a decade ago, the same European statistics were fixed at 14.8 percent. To understand how the e-commerce market will develop in the future, it’s necessary to look beyond these figures.

 

One thing is certain: The dynamic shift in sales from web page to mobile continues to break all records. The mobile revolution is in full swing. When it comes to online shopping, in 2019 smartphones overtook PCs for the first time, reaching 24 percent of e-purchases in PWC’s global sample. Europe leads the way, with 67 percent of retail traffic coming from the mobile channel.

According to eMarketer, by 2021 as much as 72.9 percent of all retail e-commerce will come from mobile shopping. Product categories that are particularly popular among m-shoppers are fashion, books, groceries, and event tickets.  

 

Smartphones have become the starting point of a shopping experience that doesn’t end with product purchase. Today, customers expect much more than just the lowest price and the widest product range. They want shopping recommendations, smart support with product search, experience reports, customer ratings and reviews. They’d like to be able to compare prices, create wish lists, inquire about their purchase, rate all products and pay securely. In short: They seek full support along the entire Shopping Journey and the smartphone is their best companion. 

 

User expectations have grown significantly over time. Nowadays, mobile shoppers have very little patience for providers who don’t cater to their needs. Surveys have shown that customers are increasingly convinced it’s worth changing providers for those who catch up with the latest industry trends. With a lack of a user-centered approach on the side of retailers, brand loyalty has seen a drastic decline. Customers choose to shop with the retailer who best identifies their needs and offers comfortable, user-friendly solutions. Such a retailer understands them and their world much better than others. 

Wherever, whenever: Shopping made easy

The best solutions out there have one thing in common – an extraordinary shopping experience. The decisive factor here is often a strategic focus on the mobile channel. Thanks to superior performance, full use of mobile’s built-in features, and great personalization and contextualization possibilities, native shopping apps offer the best chance to meet the increasing customer expectations. Across Europe, 75 percent of users already prefer native shopping apps to mobile-friendly e-commerce websites. 

 

Speed is a key factor here. It’s no longer defined as a purely technical challenge and measured in seconds –apps need to meet growing mobile requirements in terms of fast and easy usage. Billion-user apps such as Instagram and TikTok lead the way in this regard and shape the expectations for seamless mobile experience, flawless performance and ease-of-use. They offer exciting content in easily consumable streams, make the most of the established fast usage patterns such as swipe gestures, and allow easy and convenient content distribution.

 

Spotify, the music streaming giant, goes one step further: The app adjusts to the user’s environment and each time offers its optimized version, e.g. when listening to music in the car, the application runs in a Car View mode that makes it easier to control tracks while driving. A  supersized version of track controls and song details comes in handy behind the wheel.  

 

To keep pace with the latest trends and best practices in mobile e-commerce, retailers need to optimize their apps according to their business needs and strategy. They need to keep in mind the ease-of-use, the concept of shareable, bite-sized content snacks that are easy to grasp, and the importance of content relevance for the user. And let’s not forget that digital services should complement retailers’ offline offer and enhance the overall shopping experience.

 

In forward-thinking stores, products themselves can be accompanied by moving images or short videos in a personalized recommendation stream, to catch the user's attention. It’s no rocket science. Retailers who want to succeed in the mobile revolution and go head-to-head against the established players and their top apps, don’t necessarily need to apply the latest technologies such as AR/VR or make massive investments. The key to an exceptional mobile user experience and brand loyalty is proximity to the customers and the ability to translate customer insights into tangible solutions.

 

With a seamless experience on all channels and a customer-centric shopping journey, all the big New Year’s plans for an e-commerce boost are feasible.

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