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How Brands Can Leverage Mobile as a Shopping Companion

Over the past few years, mobile has graduated from being simply a touchpoint in the customer journey, to increasingly becoming more of a companion for shoppers, supplementing their in-store experience. One example is how Starbucks was able to disrupt the tired point of sale model to allow customers to begin their purchase experience on their mobile device, finishing with a much more streamlined acquisition of their daily dose of caffeine. We’ve also seen Sephora position their 'Sephora To Go' app as a window into what tends to increase intent to purchase within their online experience, offering customers the option to scan a product in-store to access online reviews and ratings of products.

In 2018, Yes Marketing conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers to offer insight for brands who are worried about succumbing to the strong headwinds in the online retail space. They wanted to share their findings on what motivates customers to engage, make purchases, and become loyal to a brand. Therein they shared eight marketing trends to help brands gain a bit of an edge in this rapidly changing and disruptive market. To gain extra insight into the findings of the report, I spoke with Bryan Finke, VP Communications & Customer Experience Strategies at Yes Marketing. Our conversation is below. 

Will Beacons Ever Take Hold as a Viable Mobile Option?

Beacons get mixed reviews. Some think they will be what will cement the effectiveness of mobile in commerce while others think they will never be what they could have been because their method of use doesn’t align well enough with human nature. Maybe we’re still missing a piece in the execution of beacons that will make them a truly viable option. They could be missing the mark on relevance or aren’t offering enough of a value for consumers to rely on them consistently. I asked Bryan what he thought on the topic, and considering mobile is becoming more of a tool for shoppers rather than just a touchpoint, what are his thoughts on the potential for beacons to become a mainstay in mobile strategy?

“While we haven’t seen the use of beacons take off just yet, there is a lot of opportunity for brands to incorporate them into their mobile strategy. Our recent study revealed consumers crave personalized experiences, however, only 37 percent of consumers say that the communications they receive from retailers are adequately personalized.

It will become increasingly important for marketers to consider where consumers are in their customer journey and to seamlessly orchestrate personally relevant experiences along the way. The use of beacons and other technologies that enable marketers to understand their customers’ geo-location will allow brands to provide mobile experiences that recognize the physical context of their customer and combine that with other data to offer more relevant and potentially powerful engagement.”

Purchase on Mobile is Still Behind

One of the interesting findings in the report is that purchase on mobile is still falling behind, as many surveyed said it is at that point in their purchase journey they switch to a bigger screen. Could be that they prefer more screen space, but then voice as a method of purchase shows that might not be the case. Brands are likely struggling with mobile completing the purchase loop, so I asked Bryan the advice he had to offer brands that to increase the percentage of consumers that purchase on mobile versus desktop.

“Mobile commerce has become the new norm. In fact, a third of consumers now prefer to make purchases on smartphones over tablet and desktop, and half of those who have retailer mobile apps use them to make purchases. However, 49 percent of those who still prefer desktop say it’s faster to make purchases, and 49 percent say it’s easier to comparison shop indicating a need for retailers to make the mobile experience just as seamless as desktop.

With the growing dominance of smartphones, brands have plenty of opportunity to improve the mobile experience and increase the number of consumers that make mobile purchases. To create a more seamless mobile shopping experience, brands should make it easier to convert on mobile than on desktop by prioritizing elements such as sleek and intuitive design, clear CTAs in emails, and one-click purchasing. The key is to design a user experience that considers the functionality and experience users have with their mobile devices, and create the simplest and most frictionless path to convert. 

From there, brands should leverage the data they have already collected from their customers -- such as purchase history and shipping address -- and the data and technology customers have on their devices to minimize the steps needed to make a purchase.”

Who Should Brands Look Up To?

Within the retail space, we all have our opinions on who we think is doing online/offline well. Often those conversations steer right towards brands like Amazon and Warby Parker, but given the length of time this kind of approach has been a requirement from online shoppers, many other brands are rising up to establish their own presence in the list of elite brands killing it in the online retail game when it comes to marrying in-store and online experiences. Given his viewpoint on the space, I wanted to know which brands Bryan felt were doing retail well in terms of the online/offline strategy?

“Since the launch of Nike+, Nike has continued to develop online experiences that enhance their customers’ offline interaction with the brand and its products. By developing applications and content that track customers’ physical activity in real time, enabling them to connect with others and providing them access to content and other experience-enhancing activities, it has successfully delivered on a seamless experience that builds loyalty and increases athletes' engagement with their brand.

Olive Garden is currently doing an amazing job of using its email communications to keep its audience engaged through a combination of creative content that keeps guests opening emails and mobile promotions that drive guests into its restaurants.“

Ending Notes

When it comes to the issue of consumers opting out of purchasing on mobile, it makes me wonder if voice has the potential to further the gap there. Even though one might think a reason consumers jump to desktop or tablet to purchase could be more screen visibility, voice (with no screen) runs in direct opposition to that. The potential for voice purchase highlights that it could be convenience consumers are after, not screen space, and that notion could perhaps offer some clarity on how to better design the mobile purchase experience. 

Second to that, Starbucks has been so successful with mobile ordering, they’ve needed to increase headcount in certain stores to meet the demand. Another point in the convenience column for how to make buying on mobile more successful.  

Laura Myers

Laura Myers

A digital business, marketing and social media enthusiast, Laura thrives on asking unique, insightful questions to ignite conversation. At an event or remotely, she enjoys any opportunity to connect with like-minded people in the industry.