Cyber Week 2014 – the holiday shopping season comprising Black Friday through Cyber Monday – saw mobile truly take off, with mobile purchases increasing 45 percent over 2013. But mobile’s shining moments weren’t confined to the holiday season. In Q2 of 2014, mobile traffic skyrocketed to 16 percent of all ecommerce traffic, according to Monetate’s Ecommerce Quarterly report (EQ2 2014). These figures indicate that 2015 will be the year mobile emerges as a legitimate purchasing channel – creating real business results for retailers.
“Mobile experiences are improving, thanks to advances like in-store and online activation with beacons, disruptive standalone apps and new mobile checkout solutions like Apple Pay and PayPal Mobile Express,” said Lucinda Duncalfe, CEO, Monetate. “Consumers embraced these technologies during the 2014 holiday shopping season, proving that mobile is becoming a key revenue driver. Customers are increasingly expecting one-click ‘Amazon-like’ payment experiences and super-personalized mobile sites, and we anticipate seeing brands make this a priority this year.”
Businesses must embrace mobile with a specialized approach. Compared to desktop visits, bounce rates on mobile are 50 percent higher and add-to-cart rates are 30 percent lower. More personalized, frictionless mobile experiences will yield even bigger business results and turn mobile browsers into mobile buyers.
“Mobile is gaining a larger piece of the ecommerce pie, which presents marketers with a huge opportunity. The first step is to look at what mobile visitors want to do and enable them to do it easily and efficiently,” added Duncalfe. “The key to mobile commerce strategy is creating utility and value for the customer where they are. Their needs are generally different when they’re on mobile than on a desktop.”
Brands to “Sell” on Social
There are more than 2 billion active social media users–social has moved past consumer education. Brands now use social media to showcase and introduce new products, build loyalty, and make merchandising decisions. According to a Nielsen study, 84 percent of consumers are directly influenced by what their social network says about a product. Facebook and Twitter recently debuted “buy” buttons that allow in-feed sales, so brands can instantaneously direct consumers right to the checkout page – and boost business results in the process.
“Social is now an integral ecommerce driver. Consumers are relying on their networks for pre-purchase research,” said Duncalfe. “We anticipate merchants focusing on leading consumers from the discovery phase to a purchase by adding ‘selling’ to the list of offerings on social channels.”
The Death of Black Friday; The Birth of Cyber Month
2014 was a season of online deals and discounts that were offered well before and after Cyber Week.
“This season, retailers offered very similar or identical online and in-store deals,” Duncalfe continued. “Since brands can offer better targeted, more personalized shopping experiences across digital devices, it’s not surprising that Black Friday is less enticing to consumers every year. In 2015, we expect to see the emergence of ‘Cyber Month’. Consumers will expect deals and discounts starting before Thanksgiving and lasting through Christmas, and they will spread out their holiday buying accordingly.”
In 2014, the U.S. holiday shopping season also expanded globally for the first time. Online sales patterns abroad began to mimic the U.S. holiday shopping season’s spikes — for example, the number of online purchases in the UK increased year over year by 39.5 percent on Thanksgiving, 109.9 percent on Black Friday and 30 percent on Cyber Monday.
In-store Tech To Influence Digital Marketing Strategies
New in-store technology, including improved point-of-sale systems, iBeacon-enabled hardware, and wearables are becoming widespread. In 2015, retailers will experiment with these innovations to learn how they can improve the shopping experience.
“The landscape is shifting as retailers are looking at their customers holistically. Our customers import in-store data from CRM and POS systems into Monetate to enable a more complete view of personalization,” said Duncalfe. “For instance, if a female customer purchased new running shoes in-store, the next time she visits the website, she will see females in running shorts, women’s running accessories, and products that are in the same price range as her in-store purchase.”
As retailers begin to see the impact of combining in-store and online data, Monetate expects that brands will make this a critical business requirement for their personalization efforts in the new year.
Loyalty Programs to Drive Deeper Personalization
This year retailers will mine loyalty program data to enhance the online customer experience and drive sales. Brands can use VIP behaviors and habits to create specifically personalized experiences for valuable customers as they hop between in-store, the phone, the web and other mobile devices. For example, when a VIP customer enters a store, they could receive a notification via mobile that an item they were previously browsing online is now on clearance.
“Loyalty program customers are the most profitable for retailers, so brands should use all the data they have about those customers to drive personalized experiences,” explains Duncalfe. “VIPs expect a brand to know them, and they respond to customized and relevant interactions across multiple channels. Retailers who embrace multi-channel personalization will see consumers establishing a deeper emotional connection with their brands.”
Telescope Illustration courtesy of Shutterstock.