In 2015, there was a decrease in the number of consumers using their mobile phone to browse before turning to their desktop to complete the purchase. Why? With the continued rise in smartphone ownership, which Ericsson’s Mobility Report states is set to hit 6.1 billion in 2020 and with improved security, consumers are increasingly placing more trust in their mobile devices as a purchasing channel. 

With this trend, brands have a huge opportunity to increase brand loyalty by creating mobile experiences which surprise and delight new shoppers.  These experiences need to offer a unique shopping experience, while integrating with a brand’s email and social messaging.  Simply replicating the web experience on the mobile app is not enough to retain the attention and loyalty of shoppers. Today’s on-the-go shopper is expecting a user experience optimised for mobile. With that, mobile app designers have seen success with the adoption of gestures such as swiping or tapping.  These quick mobile actions are able to capture product or category affinity. These mobile interactions are then used to fine-tune the content of marketing email or recommendations within the app.

Growth in smartphone usage

Recent research suggests we are now in a world where shoppers are more likely to pull their phone out and shop, rather than going home and firing up their laptop to browse and then shop. According to a IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Report, more than half of traffic (52%) to retail websites is now coming via smartphones and tablets, with mobile commerce now accounting for 36% of UK e-retail sales — rising to 40% for clothing and apparel websites. 

Some experts are predicting that this could be the year we see mobile purchases take off and race past desktop and tablet sales. Price comparison group, Connexity believes that such purchases could rise by 68%, to account for 42% of all online orders around Christmas 2016. 

In recent years, we’ve also seen more advanced security on smartphones. The smartphone is also second to none in terms of convenience. Users can check their bank balance, pay bills, check on their home security, email and keep in touch with friends on social networks via devices – something that we only dreamed of less than ten years ago. The key for digital marketers is taking advantage of the fact that customers are adopting mobile as a way of not only browsing for products, but buying too. 

The biggest opportunity for digital marketers

With the volume of purchases continuing to rise, marketers should be considering and using mobile as a key platform to acquire, convert and retain customers. The key is being visible to the customer on every channel.  With mobile now becoming the chosen platform for online shopping, having a strong mobile strategy is paramount.

The fact that you can catch someone directly is an opportunity in and of itself.  The mobile channel also makes marketers think in interesting creative ways with opportunities including: launching mobile-only sales rewards, loyalty programmes for VIP customers and sending regular push notifications to keep their brand front-of-mind for consumers. From a design point-of-view, emails should be optimised for mobile with adaptive screen sizes. Also, browsing from page-to-page needs to be a smooth and fluid process. It’s all about making the experience as convenient and as consistent across all channels as possible to keep customers coming back.

Don’t miss the mobile opportunity

For many years and even now, marketers neglected mobile as an opportunity to target potential customers due to a lack of understanding what to do on the platform.  Today, marketers cannot afford to under-invest in mobile. 

Forrester’s Thomas Husson expects most brands to underinvest in mobile in 2016 in a recent report, stating, “too many marketers still have a narrow view of mobile as a ‘sub-digital’ medium and channel. This is good news for the 20% of marketers who told us they have the budget they need and for the 33% who said they know how to measure mobile ROI.” 

However, this will change in 2016, per Husson as a growing minority of marketers will start to fully integrate mobile into their marketing strategies.

Mobile is a great channel for marketers to learn more about their customers. In the 1990s, we saw Tesco revolutionise the way it tailored offers and rewarded customers, through the use of its Clubcard with many other retailers following suit. It’s now time for brands to truly embrace mobile applications in much the same way, and launch loyalty schemes to encourage consumers to purchase via their smartphones. Building relationships with the customer in this way will present further opportunities for marketers to learn about them and understand what gets them excited when it comes to smartphone shopping. 

This year presents a real chance for marketers to revolutionise the mobile shopping experience from beginning to end. This year, I predict to be the year mobile becomes the leading platform for online shopping, so it’s time to start the revolution now.