Mobile technology has transformed our day-to-day experiences. Everything from driving directions to the best price on a dishwasher to movie tickets and even last night’s episode of “The Big Bang Theory” can be handled from virtually anywhere.
As a result, mobile commerce is exploding. And while the growth is exciting, it’s also creating new shopping patterns that are beginning to fragment the buying experience.
Brands are shifting their digital marketing practices to accommodate an evolution in the way their customers buy—namely, designing for multiple screens. Google’s “The New Multi-screen World” study reported that 90 percent of people use screens (mobile, tablet, desktop) sequentially to accomplish tasks over time. And when that task is shopping, the majority starts on a smartphone (65 percent).
But it rarely ends there. We know that more than 90 percent of mobile shopping carts are abandoned prior to purchase. It’s an unimaginable failure rate that begs for deeper understanding and explanation. To better understand this dynamic and the intentions and drivers of users, we conducted in-depth, in-person interviews with mobile users this past summer and analyzed the results. Here’s what we found.
First, the mobile shopping cart isn’t always perceived as a true a shopping cart. Without another option, consumers often use it as a method of keeping track of their research from screen to screen.
Second, a bigger issue is at hand. Shoppers have virtually no personalization when it comes to mobile screens. Not only is customization at the individual user level absent, but experiences from brand to brand, and even industry to industry, are often mirror images of each other.
Think about it. Brands go to great lengths to deliver in-store and e-commerce experiences that accurately and emotionally convey what their brands stand for. Target.com, for instance, feels and behaves like Target. The online shopping experience is different than Kmart or Walmart. And it’s certainly going to be different to shop Target.com than it is Cabelas.com. Yet those two sites are not all that different when it comes to mobile.
This is a cavernous white space for brands. With that in mind, here are three important lessons brands must learn about the mobile shopping experience.
1. Start by paying attention: Many brands share a dirty secret. They don’t know their mobile stats. Embedded in that data is a rich history that can point brands to the unique mobile behaviors of their customers, providing the insight needed to improve the mobile experience and implicitly drive sales.
In their defense, another problem is driving this—the lack of a mobile budget. When there isn’t a budget or people to apply to a problem, it will rarely get fixed. Still, we’re swiftly coming to a time when that won’t matter. The brands paying attention are the ones that will win.
2. Decide to be a leader: Target and Cabela’s shouldn’t have interchangeable mobile experiences. This is one example that marks an epidemic in the mobile shopping category. And it doesn’t have to be that way. Brands need to take a hard look at the opportunity to lead the mobile commerce category—because nobody else is doing it right. Those that look for the holes, use their data, and attack the low-hanging fruit will be the ones that move the needle.
3. Design for mobile time: “Mobile time” must be considered as brands take on design. Unlike sitting behind a computer, time on a smartphone or tablet can be more fleeting. Think about it in gaming terms. How frustrating would it be if a mobile game you were interested in forced you to play from start to finish, without the ability to pause or save? Game over.
Now take that feeling to the brand experience. It sounds like a ridiculous comparison, but it’s not. Brands should be considerate of the fleeting time people are using their mobile devices and create logical actions that let them come in and out of the shopping experiences, picking up exactly where they left off. Better yet, they should have the ability to open that experience on any screen they’re onto next.