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Meeting Mobile Head On: How Retailers Can Battle Back

This post originally appeared in The Drum.

Mobile is more than just consumer inclination to shop from the comfort of the couch; it is a phenomenon that tremendously influences purchasing behavior and should equally influence retailer’s strategies to impact the bottom line. Technology has most certainly disrupted the retail market, but with that disruption comes opportunity to better understand consumer behaviors so that content and personalization can reach across all channels and mitigate the risks of mobile commerce.

Understand mobile behavior

Despite 60% of US consumers using mobile devices for shopping, over 91% of purchases are still made offline, meaning ROI depends on customer experience bridging from online to offline. While purchasing items like pet food or electronic devices via mobile may come easy for some, higher ticket and luxury items are still purchased via brick-and-mortar retailers as 47% of consumers still like to touch and feel products before buying. Consumers have established that mobile shopping does not automatically equate to mobile purchasing, meaning it is imperative that retailers understand mobile behavior and purchase intent when designing omnichannel experiences.

Consumers use mobile devices for a number of reasons—whether for convenience, browsing, or research—and retailers have to understand what that action means for their specific brand and what result they are looking to drive. For example, a luxury brand may focus on driving in-store traffic so that shoppers can experience firsthand the product and quality they are investing in, while an electronics brand may focus on closing mobile conversions by offering a special coupon targeted to where and how the shopper is browsing. The mobile market in the US alone is projected to surpass $400 billion by 2021, so whether closing customers online or in store, there is no time to waste understanding the mobile shopper’s mindset.

Connect the digital and the physical

Mobile is no longer limited to one device; wearables, beacons, voice devices, and other smart technologies have created a complex ecosystem that requires brands to be smarter about where, when, and how they communicate with customers. Whether it’s tracking their Domino’s pizza on their Apple Watch, receiving personalized offers via Rite Aid’s beacon technology, or making checkout-free grocery runs at Alibaba or Amazon, consumers want their impulses met with convenience and immediacy.

It is more important than ever for brands to deliver contextual, customized experiences that flow seamlessly between mobile devices and the physical world. Content must not only be consistent but also deliver the right experience at exactly the right moment. Doing so requires investing in strategy and technology that helps capture how customers are engaging with brands so that their intent can be made actionable, loyalty can be cultivated, and experiences can be competitive.

Mitigate mobile risks

Mobile devices give marketers access to more information than ever about customer habits, behaviors, and whereabouts, but brands must be prudent to avoid turning customers off with intrusive or untargeted content. Not many consumers would complain about receiving a targeted, opted-in offer while browsing a specific aisle or web page, but imagine how quickly their brand affinity would turn negative if the retailer sent generic offers they didn’t want when they were simply walking or driving nearby.

To be responsible in a mobile market, marketers must not only use customer data wisely but also monitor who has access to that data and information at all times. Consumers are more willing than ever to give out personal information in exchange for something of value, but there’s no faster way to get on a customer’s “do not shop” list than through invasive, irrelevant marketing that exploits their privacy. It’s up to marketers to build and maintain consumer trust by upholding customer privacy and delivering experiences of value.

It’s a mobile world chock full of opportunities, but retailers must invest in understanding their shoppers to remain competitive. The more marketers can learn about what their customers want and where and how they want it, the more they can ultimately offer personalized experiences and content that drive ROI and brand loyalty.

Ryan Donovan is EVP of Product Management at Sitecore. Find him on LinkedIn.

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