Retailers on the brink of mobile commerce dominance?
It's not just hype: Mobile devices are becoming the No. 1 channel for retail customer engagement.
Smartphone use has increased over the years, presenting merchandising professionals with a fantastic opportunity to redefine the patron experience. This level of service surpasses point of sale and goes into customer service and marketing.
Mobile has the majority
Retailers are cognizant of the fact people are visiting their websites in a variety of different ways, obligating them to program user interfaces to fit different screen sizes. The question is: Just how small do these websites have to be and what does that mean for navigability?
Retail Customer Experience referenced Branding Brand's Mobile Commerce Index study, which discovered the majority of consumers (51 percent) accessed merchant websites on smartphones and tablets, while 49 percent visited such Web pages via laptops and desktops. Branding Brand Co-founder and CEO Chris Mason noted one particular device manufacturer boasts favoritism among mobile device users.
"Not only is the majority of online visits coming from smartphones and tablets, they are occurring on Apple devices," said Mason, as quoted by the source. "Based on past adoption trends of Apple's newly released operating systems, you can fully expect the majority of holiday traffic to come from users running iOS 8, and it hasn't even launched yet."
What does this mean for the customer experience?
With the ascension of mobile commerce in the retail industry, a new level of customer service will need to be brought to the table. When a customer visits a website, it's not uncommon to see a "Speak to a live representative" option on the side panel. What happens when a person wants to benefit from this option on a 4.7-inch screen? There are two options, both of which involve the use of co-browsing.
- A customer can navigate the website while simultaneously texting the representative.
- A patron can call a service employee and set the device to speakerphone. From there, he or she can browse the Web page while the worker provides vocal instructions.
As texting and browsing at the same time can be quite tedious, the latter option appears the most attractive. This function directly relates to the development of mobile retail applications, which according to Belk Senior Vice President of Ecommerce and Omnichannel Digital Ivy Chin, is becoming an integral part of the customer experience. He told Media Post that synchronization with beacons and in-store implementations are going to be quite prevalent as well.