Posted by Nicole Hambleton / Article, Mobile /

The retail world is undergoing a transformation, that is quickly responding to a change in consumer behaviour, led predominantly by the rise of mobile technologies.

A 2012 Australian Digital Study identified that 60% of online shoppers start their search with a mobile device using apps, Facebook and online ads as a trigger. (source Nielsen / PayPal study 2012).

92.9% of mobile developers surveyed by Appcelerator/IDC in 2012 predict that it is “likely to very likely” that in 2013 most retail companies will have enabled mobile commerce. Shoppers are already driving this transformation, as evidenced by 86.4% of developers predicting that it is “likely to very likely” that in 2013 most shoppers will look up a retailer’s site on their device while shopping in the store. (source: joint survey of 2,837 developers by Appcelerator / IDC, 2012)

A survey conducted on behalf of PayPal demonstrated that in 2010 $155 million was spent online using mCommerce and that figure is just set to explode. Consumers were gearing up to be ready two years ago, imagine how ready they are now.

What’s my strategy?

A lot of clients want to get in on that action with figures like that leading the way, however for a lot of companies new to mCommerce, who maybe only have just gotten their head around eCommerce, the question is, where do we start?

An mCommerce strategy is like any new marketing strategy, there has to be a sound understanding of what the consumer expects to get out of the service / product and also what the company wants them to get out of it. Guiding user behaviour is just as important as trying to manage their expectations.

Creating a mobile shopping experience is not just about replicating a retail experience, the user behaviour changes as soon as a consumer picks up a mobile phone. So we’ve created some points to consider when planning the mCommerce strategy.

  • What is the age / gender of my market
  • Will this be a pure mCommerce operation or will it tie in with an eCommerce store or a shop front
  • Would an app or mobile site better suit the user
  • What is the benefit to the user of viewing the store on a smartphone
  • What other value added services apart from just POS can my app / site offer

Determining who the market is, when deciding on mCommerce is as important as understanding your market before you secure retail space. The type of client you have will determine the design, whether you choose app or mobile website, an integrated social media campaign, feedback loop, customer reviews, comparison products or even live built in support.

Research indicates that men will outspend women on mCommerce platforms, the largest users are between 20 – 30 and over 65’s are increasing but expecting a more personalised level of service. All these considerations need to be factored in when you decide to implement an mCommerce strategy.

Comparing prices

Assuming that everyone is logging onto the mobile site to make a purchase is like assuming everyone who walks through a clothing store is going to buy something. One of the consumer benefits of having all of these stores available on the mobile is that they have instant access to a variety of suppliers for the same or similar product or service. Some products like commodities, often come down to price but as with any marketing strategy, price alone is not a solid USP.

People have an ingrained fear of not receiving value for money and the mobile phone now means that you can check if you are before you sign on the dotted line. This is both a disadvantage and advantage for the online store, however sometimes it goes beyond a simple price check and more to a value proposition.

To make sure your client turns this into a marketing advantage, you need to give the customer a reason to trust your online store. Provide a value proposition by offering comprehensive specifications, loyalty discounts, free shipping, eVouchers, competitions or a free gift for new customers. So while competing on price might not be an option, when the user tries to compare what they have in front of them, price is not the only deciding factor.

Online review and feedback

Who doesn’t want a second opinion before they make a purchase? Apparently most of us need a little bit of peer pressure to commit to a new purchase. With mobile technology this often means product review sites or forums.

This shift in consumer behaviour has led to a rise in what is now dubbed social commerce. Social networking sites, apps and forums allow users to compare other people’s experiences, give recommendations, like a product, share or tweet about it. If it is set up correctly this is viral marketing at it’s best.

Facebook apps are another way to boost a mCommerce strategy, develop a short term campaign and hype a product release and gain social interest.

The mobile app

Not every mobile shopping experience has to exclude the actual retail store, an integrated marketing campaign that ensures it doesn’t alienate either mobile or in store customers is often a viable option for retail stores looking to move to mobile.

In February 2012 Woolworths created a mobile app that allows users to shop online for home delivery. This encourages brand loyalty, for existing Woolworths patrons who like the range, brands and prices of their local Woolworths but like the convenience of a mobile shop. This doesn’t mean they will no longer shop in the store, or even from their desktop but in fact its likely they will want to shop both online and in store to ensure brand consistency. The app also uses the mobile as a barcode scanner so that the user can add items to list as they run out at home.

A similar strategy could be implemented for restaurants, tyre shops, cafes and most other retail stores you can find in your local shopping complex. People enjoy ‘going’ shopping but sometimes it’s just easier to pick up the mobile. Both experiences have advantages.

mCommerce isn’t all about being away from the store front, sometimes it can tie in perfectly with the customer who still likes to shop in store. The rise of NFC technology means that apps can be used to redeem vouchers in store, obtain more detailed information on products, do price check comparisons or enter competitions.

It may seem like an emerging technology and a shift in consumer behaviour but the reality is research shows the customer is ready and expects their favourite retailers to step up. The younger generation grew up with the internet and mobiles, they don’t need time to get used to the idea, they are already ready with their finger on the ‘buy’ button. If you have any campaigns that you feel would benefit by extending their strategy into mCommerce give us a call and we’ll discuss your ideas and options.