Gone are the days when having a mobile website was considered an optional extra for businesses. Today it’s a critical way for brands to meet customer’s “anywhere, anytime” expectations.
Mobile commerce, or mCommerce, is a part of everyday life for Australian consumers. So much so that 71 per cent of those surveyed rely on their mobiles to make payments, according to PayPal’s mCommerce Index.
Yet many businesses are lagging behind when it comes to mCommerce. Further research shows only 49 per cent of online businesses are optimised to accept mobile payments. This gap in readiness means almost half of Australian online businesses are missing vital opportunities to not only sell, but to provide a smart and responsive service to their customers.
Adam Jacobs, co-founder and managing director of online retailer The Iconic, says the growth of mCommerce makes it a fundamental part of any business aiming to enhance interactions with customers.
“What we’ve seen in the last few years is that there’s been a tremendous increase in appetite for shopping on a mobile device because people are doing more and more with their phones these days,” he says.
“They’re browsing content, they’re searching, sifting and they’re using it contextually through the day.
“So it’s natural that they also want to start buying product with their phone too.”
The Iconic launched in 2011 with a traditional desktop site as well as a mobile site.
“When we launched the company we knew that mobile would be a growing trend,” Jacobs says.
“We built our website to be responsive across both mobile devices and desktops. “And what we’ve seen in the past couple of years is a very strong increase in our share of traffic going to mobile in general.
“Two years ago it was a third of our traffic, today it’s more than two thirds. So we’ve continued to invest in the quality and the speed and the experience of our mobile-first responsive website.”
Two years after coming to the market, The Iconic introduced a suite of apps to capitalise and expand on the company’s mCommerce offerings. These apps are constantly being updated and improved to meet latest technology updates for both Android and Google, and to provide innovative designs for faster, easier customer interactions.
The ultimate goal, Jacobs says, is for customers to browse and shop on phones or tablets from whenever and wherever they please.
“No matter what device you’re using to access The Iconic on a browser, it’s optimised for that device,” he says.
Businesses are refining their mobile offerings to deliver a smarter, swifter purchasing platform for customers. Considering the average amount spent on mCommerce is $330 per month, the importance of a frictionless mCommerce cannot be underestimated.
Understanding how and why people use mCommerce is perhaps the greatest insight businesses can glean for mobile optimisation. For instance, knowing customers are commonly shopping on their smart devices while they are multitasking would lead brands to aim for a simple, hassle-free mobile experience.
Convenience and time-saving are major drivers of consumer spending behaviour via mobile, PayPal’s mCommerce Index shows. At 82 per cent, the majority of consumers engage in mCommerce when relaxing at home or watching TV. Others reported mobile purchasing while they were taking a break at work or school, or when commuting on public transport.
Putting purchasing into context allows mCommerce suppliers to keep ahead of the curve. In order to innovate and adapt to the evolving world of mCommerce, businesses need to rely on customer feedback and customer journey analysis. Observed data, such as customer journey tracking, combined with customer criticisms and suggestions can help refine a business’ mobile offering.
Over the past decade we have experienced a transformation in the way we manage our lives – from staying in touch with colleagues and friends, to daily tasks such as paying bills and shopping. Our mobile phones are at the centre of this transformation.
Considering this shift, good businesses are anticipating the trends that will impact the way their business functions – keeping the attitudes and behaviours of their customers front of mind. Right now, for Australian small businesses, this means making mobile a priority.
The recent PayPal mCommerce Index showed that there is a clear gap between what customers expect and what is being delivered by Australian businesses. To bridge this, there is a huge opportunity for Australian companies to adopt a mobile-first approach.
As technology develops, instant gratification is becoming a social norm. Whether you need a ride, dinner, or a place to stay, a simple click on your mobile and the task is complete. When customers are demanding seamless mobile experiences, there is an imperative for Australian businesses to jump on the mobile bandwagon.
At PayPal, we’re excited to see our home-grown businesses are shifting towards the mobile experiences that their customers now expect – safe and frictionless shopping, every time.Download the PayPal mCommerce Index here
There are also tried and trusted methods to making mobile customers happy:
Jacobs says personalisation across all facets of the mobile experience is a sure-fire way to help customers enjoy an experience tailor-made to their needs.
“Whenever we release personalisation features, we get really great feedback from our customers,” Jacobs says.
“As an example, we recently introduced the ability – based on customer feedback – for customers to follow their favourite brands in our app. So that means when they jump into their app, they can see what products have launched from their favourite brand and they can stay up-to-date with the latest trends.”
Iron out the hassles
It’s hard for businesses to put too much of a premium on a seamless customer experience. Customers shopping on a mobile device may be riding the bus to work or watching TV and they expect a frictionless experience. They don’t want to fill in countless form fields to find what they are looking for or to complete a transaction.
Moving easily from the first page to the checkout in a fast, intuitive way is highly valued by customers, Jacobs says.
Nail the fundamentals
A site or app that takes too long to load is an instant purchase barrier. So too are poor images or sites that simply don’t work on mobile devices.
Customers who meet these hurdles are likely to quickly end their experience and abandon potential sales.
Jacobs says businesses can become distracted by providing flashy features that inadvertently impede a customer’s experience or make the mistake of replicating a desktop site to an app or mobile site. He says businesses must appreciate customers want to do different things when interacting with an app, mobile or desktop site.
The continued uptake of smart phones and tablets ensures mCommerce will be a force to be reckoned with into the future. What’s more, the predicted popularity of wearable technology, such as smartwatches, and the use of mobile wallets foreshadow a certain growth in mCommerce.
The ability to serve customers at any time or place in an efficient, smart way brings endless opportunities to businesses. Those willing to embrace and invest in mobile as a unique selling platform are more likely to reap the rewards.