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Cracking Mobile Commerce Myths

There’s no question: Mobile commerce matters.

In addition to driving half of all ecommerce traffic, mobile accounted for 30 percent of all US retail ecommerce sales in a recent three-month period. For some retailers, mobile accounted for as much as 40 percent.

What’s more, approximately 40 percent of all digital sales were “cross-device” –meaning consumers used more than one device in the purchase journey.

Despite this irreversible trend, less than a third of North American companies have a mobile strategy that looks ahead at least 12 months. This is partially due to mobile myths that prevent a business from making the organizational changes and investments required to maximize their mobile mojo. Let’s break down a few of the most common mobile commerce myths.

Myth: Mobile is a separate channel
Truth: Shoppers don’t think in terms of channels. They think of “the Web” and use their preferred device of the moment. Mobile is a key player in the customer journey. “Multi-screening,” or using multiple devices to research, evaluate, and complete a purchase is common. Criteo reports 68 percent of shoppers use multiple devices to purchase a product at least half of the times they shop online.

Mobile devices also serve as a bridge between digital and physical, connecting consumers to the content, pricing information, and offers that influence their purchase decisions. Google reports 84 percent of smartphone owners use their device in-store. Almost half are on their devices for 15 minutes or longer while they are in-store shopping. One in three prefer to look up their own information rather than ask shop employees, and shoppers who use mobile in-store buy 25 to 50 percent more than those who don’t.

Marketers that don’t recognize mobile’s role in the overall customer journey – both digital and physical – may erroneously believe mobile is its own channel, and silo people, technology and budget. This leads to underinvested mobile projects, and poor, non-integrated customer experiences. This can adversely impact ROI, reinforcing the notion that “mobile doesn’t matter – just look at the numbers.”

Myth: Mobile is an extension of ecommerce
Truth: Some see mobile and desktop as a unified digital front, while others consider the mobile experience as just a scaled-down version of the desktop experience. This often leads to mobile sites that are not designed to serve the unique navigational, informational, and functional needs of the mobile context.

In such organizations, mobile technology, design, and maintenance may even be outsourced, further siloing mobile and Web teams, and disconnecting the customer experience. For example, changes to the desktop site may not update to mobile in real-time.

Myth: Mobile is about Millennials
Truth: Chances are you know (or are) a Millennial that’s glued to his or her smartphone at all times. While Millennials have grown up with technology and live their lives through apps, they’re not the only mobile Web users and shoppers. Boomers and seniors are mobile shoppers, too, with one in four mobile shoppers over the age of 55 (proportional to their share of the US population). The fastest growing cohort of mobile users is age 46-54. Businesses that believe that mobile is only for the Forever 21s, Starbucks, and Apples of the world, but not for their target age demographic, are misinformed.

Myth: “Tablets are like smartphones” or “Tablets are like desktop”
Truth:Tablets are the in-between device – the mobile-ness and touch screen-convenience of a smartphone without the constraints of the tiny screen size. They render desktop versions of a regular site fairly well, so it’s tempting to make tablet design and optimization a low priority – or no priority at all.

According to the Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly Report, global conversion rates between tablet and desktop are very close (2.51 percent vs 2.71 percent respectively), compared to smartphone conversion rates of just under 1 percent.

Average order values for tablet shoppers have surpassed desktop for fashion/luxury and mass merchant categories, according to Criteo. For every $100 spent on desktop, Criteo reports that, on average, tablets drive $114 and $102 respectively. When experiences have been optimized for tablets, the results are even higher.

Econsultancy found only 37 percent of marketers report they understand the nuances of how their customers use tablets and smartphones differently. Without this understanding, it’s easy to make the assumption that they’re the same or similar.

Failure to appreciate that tablets are valuable and deliver their own experience (both in form factor and user context) leads to a lazy design strategy. This can mean either letting the tablet’s browser auto-scale down the desktop site, or design a tablet-sized version of the mobile site. This translates to sub-optimal customer experience, satisfaction, and conversion.

Myth: There’s still time
Truth: The fact that the majority of transactions still occur on desktop is not justification to delay investment in mobile development and optimization, and doesn’t mean the customer is satisfied with the status quo. And it’s somewhat alarming that, given the importance of mobile, 49 percent of businesses report they don’t understand how mobile fits into the customer journey (Econsultancy).

Mobile has arrived, and it’s only increasing in importance to the customer. Mobile strategy should be highly important to your online business, and appreciated as an integral part of both the digital and physical experience, while requiring its own consideration of mobile’s contextual role in the customer journey.

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