Mobile-friendly websites and online stores are more or less required for retail success in 2017. As mobile activity has skyrocketed in recent years, it has created new challenges where e-commerce is concerned, as brands have worked to build and optimize mobile experiences that are just as solid as desktop-driven online commerce.
But mobile is much more than its relation to e-commerce. Consumers turn to their smartphones for many activities beyond making online purchases. Rather than strengthen the growth of e-commerce, new applications of mobile technology are driving in-store experiences that actually reinforce the future value of brick-and-mortar stores.
This is a critical point for retailers to understand. While all e-commerce needs to account for mobile consumers, mobile encompasses many different aspects of how a retail brand does business.
Its goals don’t always fall in line with online commerce. The first step to realizing mobile’s potential for your brand is by understanding these goals before you make deep mobile investments.
Basing Solutions On Strategy
At NRF’s Big Show 2017, the question of how to best apply mobile solutions was a hot topic addressed throughout the conference. Retail experts emphasized mobile’s value while making it clear that retailers must be smart when making these investments.
According to BizTech Magazine, mobile solutions should only be utilized after clear goals have been outlined for that solution. As Touch of Modern CEO Jerry Hum noted, not every mobile investment is right for every brand. Many companies find that a mobile retail app can help increase engagement and sales, but other companies won’t reach the same conclusion.
On a related note, Hum argued that even when companies build mobile apps and mobile retail websites, they should be designed specifically for the mobile experience, instead of trying to translate desktop solutions to a mobile interface -- a strategy that rarely works well.
Meanwhile, brands should distinguish mobile consumers from online shoppers, and recognize that they possess much different behaviors, preferences, and goals. Online shoppers are likely working toward the goal of making an online purchase. But mobile consumers tend to be more inquisitive and idea-driven, focused on discovery or product research, and using mobile devices in stores as often as in their own home.
As new mobile solutions enter brick-and-mortar stores, the divide between mobile and online consumers will be even more glaring. Mobile may share some common ground with e-commerce, but it represents an ecosystem far larger, and more influential, than what any e-commerce platform can offer.