As time spent on mobile devices is now greater than time spent on desktop in the UK, we’re getting past the mobile tipping point. With just 25% of European e-commerce sites currently optimised for mobile, retailers who are not able to provide a satisfactory mobile experience will miss out to competitors who do. Faced with this disruption, retailers have reached a point where they must challenge their existing business model; they need to consider how to deliver a “mobile-first” approach to ensure efficient customer relations spans all customer touch points.

But this is easier said than done. Alongside the fact that the investment required in infrastructure to truly make retail an omni-channel game for retailers and consumers alike, businesses first need to understand what mobile means to them. 60% of UK retailers feel that they’re not using the opportunities of mobile as well as they could, according to research from WBR published earlier this year. 

While for many the ultimate goal is mobile conversion, in reality it is most often still not the place where transactions take place. Nevertheless mobile has become a key touchpoint in the shopping journey and as such it cannot be ignored. Joining up with specialist partners can help improve the overall experience and increase results by leveraging third party resources to gain new insights into consumer behaviour and winning tactics, while keeping investments at a reasonable level. 

Multi-channel shopping is confusing for retailers 

Consumer behaviour and intent is increasingly difficult to decipher. A customer will look at multiple products online across different devices, browse and interact with brands in-store, and compare product and price via all channels available to them. The modern consumer is still driving demand, but he is touching an ever growing number of contact points, often providing such mixed messages it’s hard for retailers to decipher intent to buy – particularly as many struggle to connect the dots between siloed online and offline departments.

And the impact of this is evident. As consumers flit between channels, conversion rates are falling; with inconsistent brand experience across devices resulting in reduced consumer loyalty, showrooming and online basket abandonment. In fact, the average rate of cart abandonment is 68% this year and that percentage is growing. For retailers looking to boost yield, converting just 15% of those abandoned potential sales would have an undeniable impact. 

To encourage shoppers to purchase via multiple touchpoints, and to turn them away from abandoning their basket, retailers must work out how to deliver a consistent multichannel experience while encouraging shoppers to purchase. We have new evidence that shows the role that offers and timely discounts – across mobile, in-store and online – play in boosting the customer’s propensity to transact.  

RetailMeNot recently commissioned Forrester to examine how consumer use and attitudes towards digital vouchers are changing as online and offline channels blur. The study showed that special deals or money off at the checkout can help convince over half of UK consumers (53%) to make a purchase where they are, in that moment. At the same time, the data also shows that retailers are losing sales by not offering digital vouchers, as over a third of consumers in the UK (34%) abandon purchases if they cannot find a voucher.

The important thing to keep in mind is that offers must be consistent across all channels. A consumer may find an offer on his mobile phone, but make the final transaction on his computer or at a high street store. He will not understand if that offer is only available on certain channels but not where he wants to transact. Shoppers think about brands, not channels, and they’re expecting a unified experience. This also means that mobile is not necessarily the place where the final transaction will take place, but will often be the influencer that will point the shopper towards the final point of sale. 

Making shopping more personal and more relevant

In such a crowded market, retailers can’t rely on brand loyalty as they once did, particularly as there’s a risk that their brand is presented so differently across multiple devices. Other than providing a seamless shopping experience, retailers can tackle this by targeting consumers with personalised content. A relevant offer sent at the right time to the right person allows the retailer to touch customers by giving them a feeling of exclusivity; the perception of being in a privileged position will result in the consumer’s feelings of satisfaction at having bagged a bargain. For retailers, the use of discounts and offers can be used to re-engage with or encourage new behaviour from an existing customer. And once the promotion is out there – whether that be via a physical voucher or a marketing email – it is a great way of capturing new customers and generating new traffic to a website, app or high street store. 

With evolving mobile technologies – location-based and geo-fencing technology in particular – retailers have new opportunities to personalise the customer experience and also bridge online and offline customer touchpoints at the same time. So, while replacing data servers and device-lead infrastructure should be a long term goal for businesses looking to understand the consumer journey, there are also simple and cost-effective solutions for retailers looking to reach their multi-channel customer in a personalised, relevant way. 

Want to hear more from Séverine? Join her at Performance Marketing Insights this month where she’ll be exploring two of the biggest trends driving retail today.