Apple’s recent announcement that it is preparing to bring one-touch shopping to the mobile web points to a major milestone in mobile commerce.

Brands are moving past mobile hype and towards delivering options that customers want.

While the US tech giant had already launched Apple Pay for in-app purchases on iOS mobile apps and physical stores last year, this move will make mobile shopping even easier.

It enables consumers who shop online using an iPhone or iPad Safari browser to make a purchase at the push of a button with Apple Pay and TouchID.

It points to a world where consumers can shop from wherever they are without the frustration of filling out fiddly forms on a phone or having to wait for lengthy security checks processed over slow network connections.

Ovum predicts that 2bn m-commerce transactions will take place globally in 2019, 452m more than in 2014.

Closer to home, a major tipping point was recently reached.

For the first time ever, UK online retail sales made through smartphones and tablets exceeded those made over desktop and laptops in Q4 2015, according to IMRG.

Figures like this mean that retailers cannot afford to merely ‘experiment’ in mobile or ignore it entirely.

And we must be aware that consumers expect us to cater to whatever device they’re using or even the accessories they’re wearing while on the move.

In addition, when referring to mobile, we can no longer limit the conversation to phones or tablets.

We have to include smartwatches and even the latest car models, featuring screens with access to the internet (e.g. Apple CarPlay or Android Auto).

So what does being mobile-ready entail and require of a retailer? Commerce marketers might want to consider the following:

1. Be mobile responsive

It wasn’t so long ago that all web content was designed with a laptop screen in mind.

Today, one of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is not being mobile responsive.

Many retailers are now catering to mobile, so if your website and emails aren’t mobile-ready and easy to navigate, customers aren’t going to persevere and will go to a competitor.

Research found that if your email doesn’t look good on a mobile device, 80% of customers will simply delete it and 30% will actually unsubscribe from future correspondence with you.

By optimising the look of mobile websites and emails, you will enhance the overall user experience, drive more click-throughs, improve conversion rates, and reduce unsubscribes and spam complaints.

2. Be inclusive

With such a diverse range of mobile devices now available, it’s important to cater to every consumer, whether they’re using the most basic feature phone, smartphone or tablet.

Retailers should recognise these preferences and run a multi-part campaign, which sends emails in a text and an HTML version.

Many brands also drive substantial value from transaction-based services over SMS, or push notifications in apps.

For example, a customer receives an order confirmation via email, followed by an SMS with the expected arrival time or dispatch information.

Some brands like to go one step further, using both SMS and email simultaneously to ensure the optimal customer experience, no matter which device the consumer is using.

3. Adopt a ‘mobile first’ approach to the customer experience & integrate it with the wider business

It’s crucial that mobile is connected to the consumer’s full experience with a retailer.

For example, if a consumer responds to an in-store promotion and sends a text in order to receive a discount, the brand needs to acknowledge this and personalise the communication that follows.

Initially, this means referencing the shop that the text was sent from in future emails.

As more data is collected about the individual, the communications should become more targeted, reflecting device usage, personal preferences and shopping behaviour. 

Linkages between device usage (mobile, laptop, desktop) should be seamless for the customer. Connect online and offline activities and merchandising.

For example, ensure that your high-street stores are aware of any promotions you launch for mobile users.

If your stores are unaware of a current campaign and refuse to accept a promotion code, it will result in a very negative experience for the customer.

Retailers that are geared up for mobile customers are the ones that are best placed to secure sales.

If you are going to invest in mobile, don’t do it half-heartedly.

Be mindful that consumers are still using a range of devices and channels to make purchases and continue to cater to the shopping preferences of all customers.

Interestingly, we have just polled 2,000 UK consumers about their multi-device shopping habits and found some exciting results which I will share in my next blog post. So stay tuned!