3 Vital Reasons Why You Can't Ignore the Impact of Mobile on Your Customer's Shopping Experience

A recent report released by Google states boldly, "When people shop, their smartphone is now their go-to advisor and assistant." The search engine giant believes mobile has redefined the way consumers make buying decisions. It rewards websites that are mobile friendly because of its certainty in this fact. This in itself is a reason you can't ignore the impact of mobile on your customer's shopping experience. However, there are even more compelling reasons you can't afford to overlook.

1. At least 60% of Your Customers are Using Mobile Exclusively to Make Their Purchase Decisions.

Telecom. Restaurant. Auto. Entertainment. If your industry is in one of these categories, what you deliver on mobile may be the only experience 60% of your potential customers will ever have with your company. If that experience isn't good, they may be gone forever. This data is from a xAd report released in 2014, so trends seen last year suggest the numbers are even higher today.

2. The Starting Point for Choosing You Is Likely a Mobile Device.

You may be seeing fewer people in your store today, yet the "value of every visit has nearly tripled," says MasterCard. Why? Google believes it's because more people "pre-shop" before they walk through your doors. The basis of this conclusion is the "near me" search people use on their smartphones and other mobile devices. Between 2014 and 2015, "near me" searches nearly doubled.

We've done this ourselves. On our way home from a very enjoyable camping trip, we decided we wanted to end our vacation with something special. A quick tap on the "Explore food & drinks near you" option at the bottom of the Google Maps app gave us speedy options. What meal of the day were we interested in? Did we want it fast? Did we want to explore local favorites? Ultimately our decision was based upon how easy the business made it for us to find key information, such as when they were open, what their prices were and what their menu offered.

Tourists aren't the only ones making buying decisions from mobile. Everyday buyers are looking for everything you can imagine. They could be sitting in Starbucks looking for an alternative place to get their next pedicure. They might be pushing a cart through the grocery store comparing coupons from different vendors. They might be comparing prices before they decide which retail store they're going to choose. They might even be pulling up proof of the competitor's price to take advantage of your price-match guarantee.

3. The Three Buying Steps Almost Certainly Include Mobile.

Google identifies three "retail moments that matter." You may know them by the more familiar terms "buying steps" or "buying stages."

  • I-need-some-ideas moments (Broad research. I'm not quite sure what I want or need yet.)
  • Which-one's-best moments (Comparative research. I know what I want; now, I want the best fit for my needs and finances.)
  • I-want-to-buy moments (Ready to buy. I've made my choice, and I'm ready to either buy online or walk into a store.)

You want to be ready for all three. Ideas lead to narrowing the choices to making the purchase. And the businesses that are there for their customers in the mobile space are more likely to get the purchase.

So how do you become the business people find, no matter what time of day your customer's seek information?

Choose your keywords to fit the search type.

People choose different keywords based upon their position within the buying cycle.

  • Idea seekers use broad category keywords, such as "office furniture" or "camping equipment."
  • Decision seekers use more specific keywords, such as "standing computer desk" or "4-person tent."
  • Buyers often use even very specific keywords, such as "best price Veridesk sit/stand desk" or "best price Coleman 4-person tent."

Google recommends you target all three types of keyword in your content.

Design your mobile experience to facilitate each decision-making stage.

To reach mobile customers, you need content that's mobile-friendly for each type of search. The experience customers desire changes as their position in the buying cycle moves forward.

Idea Seeking Stage

Smartphone users who report searching and shopping with their phone say "product images" are the most important shopping feature for them. Thus during the idea gathering stage, picture galleries, and often video, are far more useful than a page with details about a product.

Whether the need is a new kitchen or shoes, visual examples are a vital component at this stage. When 90% aren't brand loyal at the beginning of their info-search, and another 66% turn to Google for inspiration, you sell best with top-quality pictures and video.

Decision-Making Stage

 

Details are vital for narrowing down options. What are the typical details your customers want to know?

Offer as much of this type of content as possible, especially reviews! Google recommends you "highlight your reviews in the form of stars on your Shopping ads." It helps your products "stand out."

Also recognize that showing a product "in context" may tip the scales in your favor. Sell clothing? Show the garments on real models. It's important to 64% of women who buy apparel on their smartphones.

Buying Stage

When a shopper has made the decision to buy, you want to keep the momentum with you. Thus you want to be sure you've addressed the speed at which purchases execute on mobile devices. Busy smartphone users switch 29% of the time if it takes too long to find information or make a purchase through an app. Consider Walmart. They saw their conversion rates improve by 2% just by cutting mobile page load times by four seconds.

Also, make sure you link promotions, deals and coupons to the shopping cart. Many sales get dropped when a mobile user can't figure out how to get back to the cart after they're diverted elsewhere to grab the "saving" deal.

Reconsider requiring a user account to make purchases. You'll lose 23% of your sales. If you do want to sign up buyers, consider letting them complete the transaction first. Or offer an incentive for creating a user account.

The more payment and shipping options you offer, the more attractive you become, say 69% of the people who participated in Google's U.S. Consumer Survey published in June 2016. Your customers like options in shipping, including in-store pickup. And many like being able to use Apple Pay, Android Pay or PayPal.

Summary

The impact of mobile on your customer's shopping experience is something worth paying serious attention to. Even if this requires a whole new approach to the shopping experience you offer, invest in it. Mobile adoption is an ongoing trend, so while desktops and laptops may never disappear entirely, a wise business will adapt to an environment where a mobile platform may be your customer's only shopping perspective.

The profit prospects are proven. So identify what triggers the three moments in your customer base and set a goal to create a stellar customer experience for your mobile prospects.

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Sources

1. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/mobile-shoppers-consumer-decision-journey.html
2. http://www.mobilepathtopurchase.com
3. MasterCard SpendingPulse 2010-2015, U.S. retail sales
4. Google/Purchased Digital Diary, "How Consumers Solve Their Needs in the Moment," shopping features include the following: engage with advertisements or messages from a business (click, watch, etc.); check product availability online or in-store; read reviews from other shoppers and experts; watch online videos about the product or service; look at product images for the product or service; use discounts or offers for a product or service; contact a store about a product or service; view store locations on a map; smartphone users=1,000, search and purchase on smartphones weekly=736, May 2016.
5. Google/Ipsos, Consumers in the Micro-Moment, Wave 3, U.S., n=1,291 online smartphone users 18+, Aug. 2015.
6. Google/Euromonitor International, retail micro-moments, U.S., apparel, consumer electronics, home & garden mobile shoppers, n=500 for each category, Jun. 2016.
7. Google Data, U.S., apparel, home & garden, beauty & personal care, computers & electronics, and gifts, May 2015 vs. May 2016
8. Google/Ipsos Connect, GPS omnibus, U.S. online respondents 18+, n=2,013, Mar. 2016.