Research Shows More Customers Now Buy Online Using Mobile Than Desktop… Have You Adapted?
No one can deny that mobile is taking over. In fact, it has been reported that one third of Americans now have access to three or more smartphones at home, with many using these devices to browse, compare, and purchase products online. The ability of mobile to allow customers to buy anywhere, at any time, fits in with Google’s notion of ‘micro moments’; small windows of opportunity when customers are ready to convert. The static characteristics of the desktop are not translating well to this new era of flexibility.
Mobile Use During the Holidays
It is, perhaps, the holiday season when the differences in mobile and desktop usage become even more noticeable. Desktop accounted for 55% of all holiday sales in 2015, dropping to 50% in 2016. In 2017, the scale shifted and mobile sales beat desktop sales through November and December for the first time. Mobile usage does seem to vary slightly by selling platform, with Amazon seemingly the preferred option for mobile users. Amazon reported that 70% of their holiday season sales are now placed on mobile.
What Does This Mean for Online Retailers?
Firstly, it means STOP! And think. Some online retailers will read about mobile overtaking desktop and decide to put all of their eggs in one basket, focusing on mobile sales exclusively. While this may work in some markets, it is perhaps not the most effective approach for other markets. Consider, for example, that customers in Mexico, India, and Indonesia use mobile pretty much 100% of the time; there is remarkably little desktop use within these countries, and therefore little emphasis on desktop selling.
But these markets are an exception. In the United States and Canada, as well as in many places across South America and Europe, there is much more of a mobile/desktop overlap. By focusing on mobile exclusively, it is possible that online retailers could completely alienate a large portion of their prospective audience. Customer buying behavior is changing… but it’s changing very gradually.
Right now, we’re at a turning point, and both desktop and mobile audiences (remembering that mobile audiences are further split into mobile web audiences and mobile app audiences) must be catered for, if online retailers are to thrive this Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend. It can be a little tricky to get it right, but here are 3 ways you can ensure ALL of your customers enjoy a great online shopping experience…
1. Be Consistent Across Your Channels
With both desktop and mobile — smartphones, tablets, and other devices — now being used regularly, Google research has found that around 60% of shoppers will begin the purchasing journey on one device but actually finish on another; they use multiple methods to browse, research, compare, and buy. And if we take into account that modern shoppers are experts at product comparison, we can assume that these customers are viewing products through multiple sales platforms, too, such as Amazon and eBay.
Consistency across your selling platforms is key, ensuring that no matter where your customers are, and no matter which device they’re using, they have all the information they need to make an informed purchase. In terms of overall consistency, it is best to create a single product description that can be pushed out across multiple sales platforms and channels. This can help to save you time, and spare your valuable internal resources, while simultaneously reducing the risk of human error significantly.
2. Optimize Product Content for Mobile
Leading on from the above, there is one clear problem with using a single product description and pushing it through all your sales channels. On desktop alone, the issue is that different channels will have different structures and different content requirements. When you factor in mobile sites and apps, this problem is intensified. What works on desktop doesn’t always work on mobile, and what works on one sales channel doesn’t always work on another. Online retailers need to make sure they’re responsive.
‘Responsive’, for some online retailers, simply means removing slow-loading content to boost speed, such as images. However, this isn’t always what customers are looking for. In fact, the most important factor for shoppers on both smartphones and tablets is the ability to see product images. So look for alternative solutions. We recommend software with mobile marketplace compatibility, which automatically tweaks your product content to perfectly match requirements of each sales channel.
Remember – research shows that nearly three quarters of mobile shoppers will switch to a different website if the mobile website they are on does not make it easy for them to make a purchase!
3. Be Available to Your Customers
Mobile has had a massive influence over the way customers think about the businesses they buy from, and it’s also had a huge impact on what it is customers expect from these businesses. Remember that the entire point of mobile is just that: mobile. No matter where customers are, or what time it is, a mobile device means they’re connected. It’s a major contributor to the ‘always on’ lifestyle. It’s this ‘always on’ attitude that has now created a kind of urgency in new online shopping behaviors.
For example, most customers now expect an instantaneous response to a question, although the average response time is around 12 hours according to reports. Similarly, shoppers consider ‘fast’ delivery to be within 2 days; something that many businesses will struggle to achieve. At this very busy and hectic time of year, it’s all about automation, and about seeing which of your processes can be automated, to leave you with more time to successfully manage your customers’ changing expectations and behaviors.
It’s Time to Change!
There isn’t a better time than right now to learn more about your customers’ changing behaviors and expectations, and look into ways that you can meet these evolving preferences and requirements. With Christmas now just around the corner, and with online shopping rising rapidly as customers begin searching for the perfect gifts, it’s important to ensure you’re in the best position to market and sell.