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Tech Guest Viewpoint: Six mobile mistakes to avoid


Mobile is the connective tissue in the omnichannel body. Flexible and strong, it adapts to its environment and holds the pieces together. It brings sensors, gestures, and other features to the retail experience that are simply not available on desktop. It is changing everything about the industry, and the shocking reality is that we have only just begun to discover its potential.

Many retailers have failed to keep pace with demands of modern shoppers. Even as they begin to incorporate mobile into their strategy, they fumble and follow outdated habits and inaccurate assumptions.

Mistake 1: Not Taking into Account Smartphone Screen Size

People whose online experience started with desktop often see the smartphone as just a smaller, younger sibling. As such, they use desktop screen proportions on the mobile device. This leads to:

too much text on a page, and forms that do not function well with users’ fingers and do not submit reliably, graphics and other page items that load slowly.

These inconveniences negatively affect the brand through customer frustration or boredom. Many customers abandon their shopping carts and never return.

Mistake 2: Not Leveraging Location

A smartphone is built for movement. GPS, cellular, accelerometers, maps, and cameras all take advantage of a user’s capacity to move around while holding it. To ignore these dynamic features is like buying a car without wheels. Potential is lost.

Forty to sixty percent of mobile searches are location-related. They ask questions like, “Where can I find this particular product near me right now?” This is true both when a customer is out looking for a place to shop, and when they are in the store looking for items to purchase.

Some retailers fail to make the connection. They still see smartphones as nothing more than telephones, unaware of their versatility or – perhaps even more important – the sophistication and expectations of today’s customer.

Location advantage can guide people to stores, factoring in transit and parking directions. Once inside, it can guide shoppers to the location of specific items and to cross-sell opportunities.

Retailers can begin by rethinking the entire shopping experience from a customer’s perspective, from start to end, and they should perform this process in the presence of actual customers.

Mistake 3: Not Prioritizing the Native Experience

Given mobile is the primary access point to online retail, brands must position mobile as a higher priority than desktop.

Mobile users’ native experiences fit smaller screens, therefore graphics and navigation tools become more important. Mobile experience also requires frequent refreshing, since online customers have come to expect novelty and change.

Content should be also created explicitly for smaller devices that offer native functionality, rather than mere “translation” from the desktop. WhatsApp, WeChat, and Instagram are examples of native platforms that have surged in popularity as the Web has become increasingly visual and mobile. They are built from the small screen up. Retailers are advised to completely abandon the desktop mindset.

Mistake 4: Not Viewing Online Shopping as a Relationship Building Opportunity

Retailers may tend to view mobile consumers as anonymous browsers, and no effort is made to understand them. This is probably the greatest mistake of all, as retail success depends on tailored individualized relationships.

The smartphone readily offers the raw material to build relationships, and each action a shopper makes online is available for analysis. This allows everyone, from marketers to sales associates, to create strong personal relationships with customers.

Mistake 5: Not Taking Instant Payment Services Seriously Enough

Instant payment services such as Apple Pay will completely change the dynamic of commerce, both online and in-store. Instant payment allows customers to pay for each item immediately, eliminating the need for shopping carts, both online and in the real world along with lineups at cash registers. People can pay where they stand, through the app on their phone.

Retailers that do not embrace instant payment will not be able to offer a shopping experience free from the tedium and frustration of standing in line, nor will they be able to capitalize on impulse purchases. Instant gratification is the mantra of retail shoppers, and they will quickly learn which retailers offer it and which do not.

Mistake 6: Not Following the Data

The omnichannel environment, where mobile plays the lead role, has the potential to provide retailers with direct attribution analysis – but only for those who choose to pursue it. For example, retailers retain roughly 83 cents from every dollar a customer spends, while 17 cents is lost to the cost of subsequent returns.

Once a retailer connects online and brick-and-mortar businesses – offering services like buy online, pickup in store – revenue can increase to more than 90 cents, and sometimes higher, because the 17 cents lost to returns can be partially recovered by impulse purchases made during the in-store pickup.

Undervaluing the importance of mobile in retail operations could seriously undermine the other means by which business is conducted. While those methods may have stood alone in previous years, they no longer can – they are now unequivocally interconnected.

Stephan Schambach is founder and CEO, NewStore, and Scott Galloway, founder and chairman, L2 Inc.

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