1. A mobile-first approach in 2014

2014 won’t be the first year predicted to be the year of mobile, nor will it be the last, but it will be the year that smartphone activity becomes the biggest online activity in the US.

As the consumer’s device of choice, mobile is almost always on hand. It’s the brand’s first point of contact with the consumer, but that doesn’t mean forcing them to walk around with the entire website in your pocket. Rather, the mobile experience needs to address the context of a mobile user.

The ubiquity of mobile will undoubtedly affect the way consumers expect to communicate with brands. For one, they’ll seek out visual connections, a trend driven by the popularity of image and video sharing apps like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine.

Increased time on mobile also means that consumers will demand a more personal customer experience. Data shows that 89% of consumers already desire a personalized mobile experience with brands. Brands will need to respond by using data to create an immersive experience for each customer. 

2. The ‘age of impatience’ demands speed

The continued expansion of free Wi-Fi and the massive adoption of mobile devices will make our world more connected than ever in 2014.

As a result, consumers have a shorter attention span and expect instant gratification. We’ve entered into an age of impatience, and brands need to design fast and optimized sites to gain a competitive edge and keep customers engaged.

Spinning wheels, slow load times and clunky user journeys will no longer be tolerated.

As such, mobile experiences in 2014 will be designed with the need for speed in mind.

This user experience will make the difference between brands that win with their users and those that lose out to the competition. 

3. Quality over quantity in the mobile app market

Apps will continue to grow in popularity in 2014, but consumers will become more selective and demanding when it comes to the apps they download.

The increased consumer demand for apps will lead to an increase in user expectations. Research has shown that 48% of users currently abandon apps that don’t satisfy them, and this year consumers will continue to demand more interesting and innovative app experiences.

Apps with fewer than four star ratings (even for updates) will not survive. To remain viable and in demand, apps must provide innovative and entertaining experiences, accepting that mobile sites are better-suited to quick actions and transactional tasks.

4. Mobile payments will finally take hold

The mobile payment space is becoming more competitive every day, but will mobile payments be the norm by the end of 2014?

Solutions like Google Wallet, PayPal, MasterCard’s MasterPass, Visa’s PayWave and others are revolutionizing how consumers pay for goods and services by offering a simple, safe, and quick transaction. 

50% of current smartphone users say they will use their mobile wallet for daily transactions by 2016, and by the end of 2014, we will be well on our way towards mass adoption.

5. If you can’t beat the showroomers, join ’em!

Retail brands can no longer deny that mobile is an integral part of the shopping journey for consumers. 

According to our own research, 70% of in-store shoppers in the US have their smartphones on them, and 30% actually have them in their hands while they browse.

In 2014, retailers will embrace these in-store mobile behaviors among consumers. Rather than discouraging price comparisons of in-store products to online, retailers will invest in creating compelling touch-screen experiences in the store that streamline browsing and provide seamless access to enhanced product information and social reviews.

Mobile strategy: the key to staying competitive

As mobile has moved from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’, businesses that don’t take advantage of the opportunity mobile gives them to reach customers will fall behind over the next 12 months and beyond.

Consumers will be more dependant than ever on their mobile devices in 2014, and they’ll abandon brands that don’t offer a seamless and exciting mobile experience.