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Marketing To the Mobile Shopper

Marketing To the Mobile Shopper

Wanted to share the results from a recent study called ‘Marketing to the Mobile Shoppe For those of you wrestling with how to adjust your marketing for the realities of a mobile consumer, their recommendations are spot-on.

  •  Retailers Need to Provide Shoppers With Total Access Because the consumers’ path to purchase has become nonlinear, retailers need to provide multiple points of access to information. Consumers need to be able to access information when they want it and where they want it, and retailers need to have mechanisms in place to interact with consumers at any point during this process to influence purchasing decisions. Product information needs to be made available to shoppers in meaningful ways that bring relevance to the experience. Retailers should not assume how and when shoppers are going to interact with mobile apps and websites.
  •  Retailers Need to Think Broadly About Product Categories Smartphones are changing how people shop for products from high end luxury products to basic everyday purchases. Retailers need to rethink how mobile technology is being used and provide information across a broad range of product categories.

Not All Mobile Shoppers Are Created Equal Mobile shopping revolves around the connection the technology provides and the shopping experience. Users of mobile technology tend to split into two specific groups: heavy users or light users and the gap between these two groups is enormous.

  • Light Mobile Shoppers Are the Future Arc’s research has revealed that light and heavy users share several things in common that retailers and applications developers should pay special attention to. While heavy mobile users have driven most of the growth in mobile shopping, most of the growth in the future will come from light mobile users. As mobile shopping becomes more mainstream, retailers need to address the needs of light mobile shoppers to gain their trust and make it easier for this group to engage with their mobile applications.

Trust is a big factor that tends to inhibit light mobile phone users from adopting their phones as a shopping tool. Sixty two percent of light mobile users have found that it is easier for them to shop online using a computer rather than using a mobile phone.

Within the light mobile group, there is a sub-group of users approximately 40% that have a higher potential to be converted to heavy users of mobile technology. This sub-group of users shares many of the same characteristics of heavy users. However, there are several factors that are holding them back from connecting their love for shopping and their love for mobile into a seamless mobile shopping experience. For example, many people within this group have limited awareness regarding the advanced capabilities their phones can provide them in regard to shopping. They understand the basics, such as searching for a store location, but their knowledge of shopping apps is limited. Many people are not aware that a large number of their favorite retailers already provide mobile shopping apps that can extend their online experience to their mobile devices.

Another issue for consumers is that there is a fair amount of confusion in the mobile marketplace because of the high number of apps currently available for multiple mobile platforms. As an example, there are more than 300,000 apps in Apple’s iTunes Store. These apps are organized into many categories and shopping isn’t one of them so mobile users need to be highly motivated to do the research and find these applications. As a result, many retailers are losing out on potential sales opportunities.

  •  Mobile Shopping Is Not One Activity In order to understand how mobile technologies are being used, retailers need to separate traditional shopping behavior from newly developing mobile behavior. There are many factors that come into play and each has an influence on the other.

Shopping applications also need to appeal to advanced users. Advanced mobile shoppers often use their phones to do on the spot price comparisons. If a proprietary app does not have this functionality built in, then a retailer runs the risk of having a more advanced user jumping into another app such as RedLaser or Milo and possibly losing a potential sale to another lower-priced competitor. Retailers that build price comparison functions into their shopping apps along with additional product information and features can mitigate this possibility.

  •  Mobile Shopping Behavior Changes Depending on Product Category Every product category has a unique mobile shopping profile. The Arc study examined more than 10 different mobile shopping activities and applied each to specific verticals that include Apparel, Appliances, Consumer Product Goods CPG, and Restaurants. The study revealed that some activities are core to specific categories while others were not. For example, price comparisons, ratings, and reviews, or searching for mobile coupons are relevant to specific shopping categories. Some mobile shopping behavior remained consistent regardless of product category, such as product research, looking for sales notifications, or searching for mobile coupons.

Behavior that is relevant to one category may not always apply to another. Within the appliance category, checking for product availability, product research, and making price comparisons are all core mobile shopping activities. These behaviors change dramatically when the study looks at CPG’s or Restaurants, where ratings and reviews are the dominant activity.

  •  Satisfaction Levels Vary Depending on Mobile User Experience Mobile users love the freedom that mobile devices provide, they like to be able to access information from anywhere; however, satisfaction levels vary greatly depending on the user’s experience level and the quality and relevance of the information.

Light mobile shoppers had a lower satisfaction level across all categories. The satisfaction levels for heavy users varied significantly depending on the product category. Mobile banking, downloading books, restaurant reviews, and purchasing events with a mobile device tended to have a higher level of satisfaction. In contrast, shopping for CPGs, apparel, or appliances tended to rank lower with most users. The difference between each of these categories has a lot to do with the direct experience each requires to complete a transaction. In the case of apparel, most people need to touch the item to see the material. Restaurant reviews and ratings had a much high level of satisfaction because these services are highly dependent on social reviews through services such as OpenTable, Urbanspoon, and Yelp. Retailers can improve satisfaction levels regardless of product category by increasing the amount of relevant information they offer and by adding features that deepen the experience for mobile shoppers.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are several experiences that frustrated mobile users that retailers should try to avoid. These include bouncing a mobile app user into a browser without alerting the user beforehand, forcing a user to “opt-in” too early in the transaction process, creating information overload, not meeting an end user’s reward expectations, and slow download times due to network failures or mobile applications that are not properly optimized.

  •  Retailers Need to Provide a Fluid Experience Across Mobile Websites and Apps  Mobile shopping behavior is new and will be in transition for some time to come. Retailers need to accommodate all levels of user experience and provide the broadest range of access possible or shoppers will simply go elsewhere. The user experience needs to be consistent, providing the same quality and quantity of information on mobile Websites and apps. Mobile users may not always make a clear distinction between each and may access both at any time.
  •  Retailers and Manufacturers Need To Work Together Mobile shoppers are looking for a balance of information between retailers and manufacturer’s information. Shoppers use manufacturer’s Websites for research and specialized support as they shop and then turn to retailers Websites to complete the transaction. Retailers can streamline the shopping process by providing the manufacturer’s information more directly through mobile Websites and apps and increase the probability of closing a sale.

Winning in this market is not about competing technologies. It’s not about Android versus Apple. Winning the mobile shopping challenge will come down to understanding consumer behavior and leveraging the technology to help consumers access information when they want it and how they want it, and build customer satisfaction and loyalty.