As recent research by Comscore reveals that one in three online minutes is now spent beyond the desktop, it is clear that mobile and tablet devices are moving away from being secondary devices and fast becoming the primary experience.
Our mobile devices have become the remote controls to our lives, influencing how we shop, inform and entertain ourselves and connect with one another.
We look to mobile technology to maximise every moment in our day and the immediacy it offers has driven consumer expectations to a new high.
Mobile has created many opportunities but with these arises a whole series of decisions and challenges. We have identified four key steps that will help brands to keep up with the increasingly demanding and untethered consumer.
Consumer mindset is key. Businesses must understand the changing behaviours and expectations of consumers across their customer bases within the different stages of the purchasing cycle. This means understanding not only when people shop but where, how and why, and how this varies by device, location and category.
Industry research indicates that consumers shop for higher value ‘big ticket’ items at home in a relaxed mindset, evidencing an equal preference for tablet and desktop use, while ‘predetermined’ purchasing decisions are often made at work in a more focused mindset and favour the smartphone.
‘Functional’ purchasing decisions on the other hand are made while out of home and in a convenience mindset, with device preference divided between desktop and smartphone. Mobile is a huge influence across all of these stages.
To attribute a commercial value to mobile, businesses must be able to identify how it impacts across the sales lifecycle, from marketing channels, social media and customer care and support. Pinpointing behavioural ‘overlaps’ is the key to unlocking mobile value – understanding how mobile devices are used in conjunction with other screens, how users research for goods, how they make payment and access customer care.
As the power of mobile ‘influence’ has quickly overtaken that of mobile ‘selling’, businesses must make sure that they have the right mobile platform in place, allowing target audiences to engage and use online content and services when and where necessary.
Previously assumptions have been that for content-heavy websites, such as news sites or corporate sites, responsive web design makes sense, but for sites that are transactional, have very specific functionality or have particular mobile usage patterns, a bespoke mobile site can be the best option.
This distinction no longer exists. There really is no right or wrong answer; the key is in understanding the target audience and the context within which a mobile platform will be used.
The ultimate decision about which mobile development path a business should pursue must be built around the ‘moment of truth’ for the customer. This could be purchasing a train ticket in transit, accessing the latest offer before purchasing in-store or comparing prices before a weekly grocery shop.
The third step is all about businesses recognising the importance of connecting with their target audience at the right time and in the right context. It is crucial to identify the ‘moments’ and messages that will drive a real value-exchange with the consumer.
Retailers, for example, have shown some initial resistance to the advent of ‘showrooming’, with 80% of retailers surveyed (by Edgell Knowledge Network and eBay Local) expecting to see sales reduce by 5% due to the practice.
While this opposition is in part due to business readiness, or lack of it, it highlights the importance of responding to consumers in a physical retail setting in real time.
There are a range of companies that are doing this well, such as Best Buy, which has directly matched its prices to Amazon’s online discounts, to Neiman Marcus, that uses a location positioning customer service app to connect shoppers to staff as they cross the threshold of the store.
We are a nation of ‘media multi-taskers’, habitually second-screening, ‘meshing’ (communicating via other devices about a TV programme being watched) and ‘stacking’ (communicating via other devices about other activities whilst watching TV).
These ‘multi-tasking’ behaviours are opening up a wide range of opportunities for situational selling, developing more relevant customer and ‘household’ connections and creating perfectly timed promotional opportunities that align with the content being viewed, catch-up or live.
The final step in putting mobile at the heart of the customer experience concerns visibility. The wide variety of opportunities to ‘be found’ online demonstrate the level of influence mobile has on consumers.
As well as partnerships and strategic media opportunities, businesses need to ensure that they are digitally optimising all of their online brand touchpoints for mobile, from eCRM to geo-targeted ads, digital payments and proximity marketing in a retail or out-of-home context.
Companies that are being really smart about their mobile strategies are reaping the rewards. One example is Meat Pack, a Guatemalan footwear retailer that disrupted the market with its Hijack App.
The app comes to life when a consumer enters a competitor’s store, offering a discount starting at 99% and counting down by 1% every second until the customer finds the nearest Meat Pack store. Meat Pack recently claimed that more than 600 customers were hijacked in one week using the app.
Those that stand a chance of succeeding will have to think differently. Rather than focusing on ‘mobile’, they need to think ‘mobility’, ‘moment’ and ‘need’. These insights will help companies understand how situational relevance can be converted into a rewarding and commercially beneficial customer experience.