With each passing year, mobile commerce proves itself as a viable and powerful tool for retailers through engaging more and more customers, increasing sales, and generating larger revenues. In 2012 alone, mCommerce sales increased by 81% to a grand total of nearly $25 billion. Furthermore, according to an eMarketer study from earlier this year, mCommerce will move on to represent 24% of all ecommerce sales, while those generated by PCâ€™s dropped by 14% in Q1 2013. The same study specified that of those mobile sales, tablet sales exceeded that of smartphones.
Regardless of the mobile medium, many retailers are still wondering how best to begin their mobile strategy and take advantage of this successful market. To that, we recommend three different strategies: the incorporation of responsive website design, the specification of a website solely for mobile devices, and the creation and promotion of mobile applications.
Developers and retailers saw the initial rush and push to create mobile websites back in 2011, primarily motivated by costs and resources. Since then, retailers have continued to move toward the idea of not only having a unique website with a design changing according to the device, but a more interactive and responsive website. With the expansion of design possibilities made available by ever-evolving technology (i.e. HTML5 language), the notion of responsive websites and mobile-specific websites has transitioned from a more creative stance to a logical strategy for both customer engagement and brand reach.
With the success of mCommerce as a whole, it then begs the question as to why one might hesitate in creating mobile applications as they would a mobile website or redesign their current website. Mobile applications are becoming invaluable tools and golden opportunities for retailers, for numerous reasons.
1.Â Â Â Â Easy to Build
New and ever-improving frameworks and languages mean that not only is the construction of app relatively simple, but said apps are also easy to build for varying OS. With limited development, a native iOs App can be transformed into an Android App as multi-platform costs have drastically shrunk within the past two years.
2.Â Â Â Â Better Customer Experience
In a recent study conducted by Compuware, 85% of participants said they prefer mobile apps to mobile websites. Apps are also perceived as being more convenient (55%), faster (48%) and easier to use for browsing and shopping (25%). Â â€“And customer perception is critical to consider.
Another advantage to utilizing apps concerns loading times. Mobile sites and responsive-design websites may take several seconds â€“ or, depending on the internet connection, longer â€“ to load, while mobile apps can be immediately available and accessible offline. This immediacy is the perfect response to societyâ€™s â€śneed-it-nowâ€ť mentality, ensuring for a quality user experience. Offline usage of mobile apps, paired with the availability of device features (i.e. camera, GPS) offers unlimited ideas to online brands. Unlike websites, mobile apps that do not require internet offer a more consistent relation to the merchant as the users can close the app and find the same content when they re-open it at a later time.
3.Â Â Â Â Significant and Speedy Growth
Flurryâ€™s 2012 mobile data report found the usage of retail shopping apps grows 4 times faster than general app usage. Furthermore, tablets alone are generating greater and greater numbers of online and mobile traffic (for more details and statistics, see our blog, â€śWhy Retailers Should Focus Their Mobile Commerce Strategy on Tabletsâ€ť).
4.Â Â Â Â Proper Response to Competitorsâ€™ Apps
Some 83 percent of top retailers offer at least one mobile application, according to the IT consulting firm Cognizant. In the struggle for brand awareness and visibility, retailers cannot avoid platforms that would otherwise give competitors an edge. Being visible on an App Store and, therefore, being more available to oneâ€™s customers is a definite advantage.
If you donâ€™t have a robust MCommerce strategy yet, what strategy will you take? -And if you already have a mobile website, how will you develop your mobile app?