Getting retailers more mobile friendly

Mobile retailing has gained a lot of traction over the past few years, but not everyone is on board. 

However, with high street spending in the UK increasing at its slowest rate since 2012, according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium, mobile could hold the key to retailers staying in business. Indeed, with most people possessing a smart phone or tablet, it has encouraged new ways of shopping.

Tom Adeyoola, founder and CEO of Metail, says that the next consumer battle-ground is on the smartphone. 

“Footfall in store is dropping as consumers spend more and more time on their mobiles. Research from Adobe shows that 61% of shopper visits to retail websites stem from mobile devices. The most innovative founders are focusing on pivoting to mobile, particularly in Asia. Retailers who don’t will ultimately fail,” he says.

Ian Blackburn, managing director of online retailer, Hidepark Leather, says mobile retailing has become more popular as it is convenient and now technically simple to get a good experience of a retail site on mobile.

“Websites now load quicker and are optimised for mobile to improve the experience for everyone on their handheld devices,” he says.

“By the end of the year, 70% of purchases are expected to be made on mobile over desktop – that is the rapid growth we are seeing in mobile retail. Some retailers may fail to get on board with mobile retail as it can be costly to make a good website mobile responsive, but it is definitely worth it. Your business is missing out on valuable traffic and users by not having a website suitable for mobile.”

Creating a mobile retailing strategy

Blackburn says that when creating your mobile retail strategy, it's important to make sure that everything works on your site.

“Employing those that are technically savvy is essential if you do not have the skills to optimise a mobile website yourself,” he says. “It's better to have it done correctly than half-completed. On mobile, trust signals are considered more and more.”

For example, ensuring that your payment seals are in place during the checkout process helps to set people's minds at rest as shopping on mobile can often be considered less secure than desktop. Blackburn adds that mobile retailing will only be increasing further in the years to come.

“Retailers should expect a higher percentage of consumers to come through a mobile website, therefore investing in your website and social media is crucial to capture the app-using audience. Create the perfect mobile journey for your users and keep up to date with mobile website changes and you will create the experience that users desire."

Gaining inspiration for mobile

Adeyoola says UK and European retailers ought to look to Asia for inspiration. Whereas Black Friday sought to entice shoppers in-store, Singles Day, Alibaba’s Chinese equivalent, is an online-only affair. More tech-savvy than their Western counterparts, the $38 billion spent on Singles Day in China as a whole compared to the £2.5 billion on Black Friday in the UK speaks volumes. He says: “Adopting new technology, including a focus on smartphones, is the only way UK retailers can keep up with the sustained growth of the Asian retail market.” 

Future mobile retailing trends

Traditional mobile commerce is focused on transactions and checkout. But Simon Brennan, vice president of sales Europe at Engage Hub, says that mobile commerce is now more about customer experience, helping customers check stock before queuing for hours – not only encouraging mCommerce sales but also driving footfall into more traditional brick and mortar stores.

“The retailers and eCommerce companies that will see the biggest growth in 2018 will be those that are able to truly own their digital customer relationships,” he says.

“As the capabilities of mobile devices evolve, smart marketers will look to offer amazing new personalised experiences to customers and mobile users, while capitalising on the data these interactions produce. With marketing budgets increasingly prioritising mobile, businesses that master their ability to measure and act on their mobile data will have the ultimate competitive advantage.”