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5 Best Practices To Boost Retail Mobile Sales ROI

These days, you can’t talk about e-commerce without considering mobile. According to IBM, over 50% of 2016 holiday web traffic and 35% of sales came through mobile. Yet individual retailer results vary.

The mobile measurement company where I work has visibility into mobile sales for hundreds of retailers. Across that sample, mobile’s share of e-commerce sales ranges from 15% to 90%. So, why do some succeed while others don’t?

Here are five strategies that help mobile winners drive great results:

1. Have an app.

Retailers need both a strong mobile web buying experience and an app to maximize sales. Apps have proven to be most popular with loyalist customers, while medium and light buyers tend to shop on mobile websites. But you need both types of customers to maximize sales.

Shoppers are more likely to use apps that provide unique value. Macy’s, for example, focuses on unique discounts to satisfy its deal-seeking core users. By contrast, Neiman Marcus focuses on highly personalized recommendations for their less price-sensitive customers. Such brand-aligned app offerings help cement core brand equities with loyalist shoppers.

2. Optimize mobile shopping experiences.

Smart retailers constantly analyze and optimize mobile experiences. Interestingly, it took a shock to the system to get many retailers to take mobile seriously. Google delivered it in 2015 when it announced that search rankings would begin strongly favoring mobile-friendly websites and penalizing mobile-unfriendly ones. Not surprisingly, “Mobilegeddon” set off retailer panic; search engines contribute to about 40% of online transactions, according to a SimilarWeb report referenced by Business Insider.

A friend told me of his company’s efforts to create mobile-friendly experiences in the 60-day grace period Google allotted. The primary step they took was to move to a more “responsive” website platform. A responsive site reads the dimensions of the user’s screen and adjusts the layout of the page and its content according to what would look good on that particular screen size. The company had done some work on responsive content already, but the project had stalled in favor of other priorities until Google made its announcement. Additionally, they reduced the “weight” of web pages by removing unnecessary scripts and optimizing image sizes. The new site was complete by the deadline and actually improved their rankings.

Mobilegeddon also drove a cultural shift that put mobile at the center of everything they do. These days, virtually every major retailer is investing heavily in making mobile shopping a better experience.

3. Analyze and optimize buyer flows.

Mobile use cases and touch screens create unique checkout challenges that retailers must address to squeeze every possible dollar from the channel. Mobile retail winners, however, dig into user data to find buyer logjams that increase checkout abandon rates. They begin by analyzing purchase paths to see where buyers start to drop off drop off.

Years ago, I worked with a retailer that had great PC conversion rates, but terrible mobile conversion rates. Our analysis revealed a huge hurdle: Users had to enter their name, address and payment information every time they shopped. When we updated the e-store to autofill forms, conversions spiked.

4. Dedicate ongoing marketing resources to mobile.

With mobile, brands have unique opportunities to reach and persuade would-be buyers. They can connect with people while on the go, use location-based messaging to influence decisions near relevant venues, and market to specific audience segments like first-time mobile shoppers, lapsed mobile buyers and mobile loyalists.

One popular strategy uses mobile to stimulate incremental purchases from past buyers. Here, the merchant creates audience segments based on the amount the individuals have spent in the past, and/or the specific categories/brands/items they buy. Once the segment has been created, the brand then creates creative executions specific to that audience segment. Here are just a few examples of how this can work:

  • A segment of past Ralph Lauren purchasers are shown ads that say “Sneak Peek: See the new Ralph Lauren Fall Collection.”
  • People who usually spend $200-$300 on shopping at a time get a discount offer if they spend more on their next shopping trip: “Save $100 when you spend $400.”
  • People who have just purchased a new suit receive an offer for related, complementary merchandise: “Get 30% off dress shoes today.”

5. Get personal with customers.

Successful mobile retailers create serendipity, using personalization technology to deliver the right messages at the right times. Savvy retailers now personalize everything from mobile pages to emails, push notifications and ads.

Personalized ads show great results in our industry data. We’ve seen ROI increases of 180% to 540% when brands leverage past purchases and searches to personalize mobile ads and CRM. For example, I routinely receive airfare alert banner ads featuring price cut offers to specific destinations I often visit. When I see a great fare available between San Francisco and Missoula, I make an incremental purchase. When marketers use a shopper’s past purchases and searches to personalize experiences and product recommendations, sales usually go way up.

Mobile provides unique opportunities to deliver more effective marketing. By leveraging strategic focus and best practices, a merchant can go a long way toward maximizing mobile sales.

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