January 26, 2015
Early advances in technology made in the late 1980s set in motion a series of events that would result in a shrinking of the global village, forever changing the way that people progressed through the buying decision process.
As new vistas of connectivity closed the gap between retailers and consumers, businesses began taking their wares online in droves. And thus, the rise of consumerism contributed to the growth of hundreds of emerging industries. Now, mobile devices are making their mark.
Mobile Market Predictions
By the year 2017, 60 percent of all retail sales in the U.S. will involve online transactions made through the use of a laptop, tablet or other mobile device according to a ‘recent report’ (https://www.internetretailer.com/2013/10/30/60-us-retail-sales-will-involve-web-2017) by Forrester Research.
At present, the number of U.S. mobile shoppers weighs in at 111 million as predicted and is increasing exponentially. As it has for the past five years, this trend seems likely to continue its meteoric rise well into 2016 and beyond.
But what exactly is driving this demand? Experts are claiming that the increased ubiquity of Smartphone ownership in the United States is responsible. Such a rapid growth in the eCommerce sector begs the question, “how will retailers cope?” The short answer is that they won’t unless they adapt to the needs of their ever-expanding audience.
The Growing Prevalence of Online Shopping Apps
There can be no doubt that mobile applications are dominating the world of online consumption. In fact, consumers are poised to step up their online shopping efforts over the next 12 months to the tune of $327 billion by 2016, a 62 percent increase over the last five years.
Shopping sessions conducted through various iOS and Android apps were the fast growing on record, increasing by 174 percent year-to-year and posting a 77 percent increase over 2014. Android apps alone increased by 220 percent – an indicator that reflects the current state of the consumer mentality.
Other apps relating to productivity were the second fastest growing category of 2014 and were up 121 percent. Mobile applications pertaining to social media and messaging took third with a still significant growth rate of 103 percent. These app categories have outpaced the rest of the marketplace and seem well-positioned to strengthen their grasp.
Understanding the Distribution of Time
When you consider the fact that mobile technology has allowed people to maximize their productivity, it may be fair to say that there are now more hours in the day than ever before.
For retailers to be able to capitalize on this idea, they first need to understand when and where their targeted customers are spending their time. In the graph below, a clear indication of this information can be seen. The majority of online shoppers using their mobile phones to complete the transaction process do so just before work (9 a.m.), again at lunch (noon) and shortly after dinner (8 p.m). Use your analytics to determine the time zones where most of your customers are located.
Putting this information into practice will require refocusing your marketing efforts to coincide with the times people are most likely to influenced, namely, when they are actively engaged in the shopping experience.
Setting Your Priorities Straight as an Online Retailer
It simply isn’t enough to just have a website and hope visitors will find you online – there is far too much competition for that.
Retailers will need to come to grips with the spending habits of their customer base and rework their online shopping carts (making them ‘mobile compatible’ (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-mills/5-reasons-you-absolutely-_b_5122485.html)) while focusing on three key areas:
- Self-service functionality: Mobile apps that are able to automatically detect when the customer is at the store and then provide information on where to locate relevant products are becoming an emerging trend for big retail chains.
- Inventory tracking: Anyone who’s ever been to a store expecting to find a particular item only to be told that the product is only available at another store location will be glad to have an app with this function.
- Price consistency: Consumers are constantly looking for the best price or the best value and discrepancies in price will work against you. As a retailer, if you take the hard work out of the buying equation you’ll be able increase your conversion and retention rates.
Just don’t be fooled into thinking that all your problems will be solved by simply making it easier. Your competition is never far behind and, as such, you should consider protecting your competitive edge in the mobile marketplace a top priority for 2015 and beyond.
What’s Trending in 2015?
The constant efforts of advertising agencies to capture market share has never been more prevalent. The problem is now so systemic that the average American is exposed to anywhere from ‘300 to 700 marketing messages per day’ (http://blog.telesian.com/how-many-advertisements-do-we-see-each-day/) across multiple platforms and as many as ’50 percent of all online ads are (almost) never seen’ (http://www.behind-the-enemy-lines.com/2012/03/50-of-ads-are-never-seen.html).
Is there any real way to cut through the noise and reach those members within your target market and if so, how can this be achieved? Consider the following:
- Locally Relevant Ads: Part of the problem is that the ads consumers are generally interested in are often buried under countless others that are irrelevant to their mind. Making a personal connection is perhaps the quickest and easiest way to gain visibility online, as is siding with a charitable cause within the broader community.
- Mobile Marketing: Retailers need to be aware of the disparity that can arise between the physical store and the public’s perception of the online marketplace. Tailoring your message to particular sub-sets found within your target audience as a whole represents a perfectly viable strategy.
The Future of Mobile Shopping
It seems quite clear that consumers have made their decision: mobile shopping technologies are here to stay. In a world where practically anything and everything is accessible to the average user, retailers must now embrace the new paradigm and cater to the demands of their audience.
Adrienne Erin is a blogger and Internet marketer for what she thinks is one of the best SEO companies out there. When she's not blogging about tech and social media, you might find her practicing her French, whipping up some recipes she found on Pinterest, or obsessing over vintage postcards and stamps.