As consumers continue to shift to a mobile-first mind-set, retailers need to find ways to engage that meets them where they hang-out (on a screen that is approximately 5″ X 7″). But poor efforts at creating a slick user experience are hobbling the mobile retail moment.
For Google it’s the loading speed that is to blame, coupled with an inability or reluctance to embrace new AI and machine learning techniques that help understand consumer behaviour in hyper-relevant context. Martijn Bertisen, Director of Retail at Google UK discusses the issues…
For most of the early 20th century, the concept of a mobile phone seemed like the stuff of fiction. There is a clip on YouTube of “Eve’s Wireless” – a 1922 silent, monochrome film from British Pathé in which you watch Eve unveil her remarkable ‘wireless phone’. The nimble device comprises of a shoulder bag dialling box, wired to an umbrella-come-antennae, which in turn is connected to a power source that looks suspiciously like a fire hydrant.
97 years later, our vision of a mobile phone has transformed entirely. And the development of smartphones has transformed us in turn, too. A recent report from Zenith found that consumers will spend 800 hours on mobile internet this year, which is expected to increase to 930 hours by 2021. Needless to say, mobile is everywhere.
This unprecedented level of connectivity has naturally had a huge impact on internet retailing and ecommerce. Recent reports have estimated that global retail ecommerce sales will top $3.45 trillion in 2019, and mobile is playing a key role in driving this. Although smartphone sales are beginning to plateau in the west, there has been explosive growth in highly populated countries such as India and China.
For brands and retailers, it’s crucial to consider just how many visitors are connecting with your site via mobile – and it’s equally important to remember that mobile plays a critical role in bringing customers in-store. Retailers must therefore view mobile as an extension of their storefront. So how can vendors make the most of the mobile world?
Using data signals
Shoppers now reach for their smartphones in every kind of micro-moment, from I-want-to-know to I-want-to-buy (and crucially, I-want-to-buy-again) moments. Smartphones facilitate this curiosity and help drive consumers on their omnichannel journey to purchase.
A byproduct of this use is the data and signals that are now available to retailers. Retailers can marry this unprecedented amount of data with AI and machine learning tools to understand how customers are engaging with the brand. Using these tools, vendors can analyse data to reveal insights and trends that would have previously been invisible.
Retailers should consider how they can incorporate deep, timely data into daily planning activities. For example, research has found 46% of shoppers will go to the store as soon as possible after deciding they want a product. For retailers with physical stores, mobile increasingly plays a key role in driving traffic in-store – it’s all about reaching consumers with the right products, at the right price, at the right time.
The need for speed
Retailers need to reach customers quickly and efficiently wherever they are browsing. Mobile is an integral part of the customer’s shopping experience – research has found that 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in store, and in 2018 62% of time spent on the internet by adults was on mobile devices. This is set to become even more influential globally, with the World Advertising Research Centre finding that 73% of internet users will access the web exclusively through their smartphones by 2025 (which is nearly 3.7 billion people).
Despite this, websites are not keeping up with this rise in demand, as the vast majority of mobile web pages offer a weaker user experience than desktop browsers. It appears that brands and retailers are missing a key opportunity here.
In our digital world, people expect a smooth online shopping experience and want to purchase items quickly and efficiently. Technology develops quickly – but consequently so do consumer expectations.
The sites that can offer the speediest experience to customers put themselves in the best position to increase their revenues. Slow sites are likely to produce a negative experience: 79% of consumers say that if they’re unhappy with site performance, they’re unlikely to return to the site again.
Meanwhile, 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes over three seconds to load. It’s clear that the impact of a slow loading mobile site can be very costly. Therefore, ensuring your brand has a simple, effective and efficient site is a reliable way to draw in new customers and retain regular shoppers.
The increase in mobile internet usage is changing shoppers’ behaviours – both inside the store and out. Brands have to not only be present online, but make sure that all aspects of their presence provides users with a personalised experience, reaches the relevant people at the right time and delivers consumers a swift and seamless experience.
Mobile represents the biggest store front the world has ever seen. To make the most of this, vendors must create relevant experiences that connect consumers to its brand and encourage shoppers to return regularly, both in store and online.
Martijn Bertisen, Director of Retail at Google UK