Written by Deeon Brown, Brand and Communications Manager for DailySteals.com
Mobile technology was supposed to create an infinite storefront where the rent is lower, the buyers are more impulsive and the checkout process is speedier - so what went wrong?
The e-commerce world now stresses about turning “mobile browsers” into “mobile buyers”, but I say it’s time to abandon that distinction. Instead, we should assume that everyone who visits our mobile site or app is there to buy something—no different from someone who walks into a Best Buy or Wal-Mart. Whether a person drives across town or taps a link, they still made the effort to reach the store. If we treat mobile visitors like drifters peering through a window, we’re not going to sell a thing.
To realize the promise of the infinite storefront—to encourage mobile users to make purchases - we need to create a shopping experiences that is not only easy and secure, but proactive. Jumio’s 2013 mobile commerce analysis found that retailers lost $16 billion dollars because 47 percent of shoppers abandoned mobile purchases and 57 percent of them never followed up on a computer, according to a Harris poll. The same poll found that 51 percent of shoppers don’t feel safe entering credit card information, 41 percent found checkout too difficult on a mobile device and 23 percent said their payment wouldn’t go through.
So how do retailers win back their share of $16 billion? How do you create new mobile customers?
1. Actually make mobile purchases easy
If someone asked you to fill out a 20 page form in order to buy a pair of gym shoes, would you do it? Of course not, and that is why a lot of mobile buyers avoid mobile purchases and abandon shopping carts.
First, getting to the product you actually want can be ungodly frustrating on mobile sites and apps. Typing and searching on a smartphone is slow. Browsing categories and items is also slow because you can’t view more than a few items on one screen. After awkwardly scrolling to the right size and color, you hit “Add” and hope you didn’t accidentally hit “Wish List”. And then, you get to enter your name and email on one page, your address on another, credit card information elsewhere, and unlike in the overwhelming majority of mobile typing situations, you actually have to spell things correctly.
This will not cut it.
If you’ve been using a generic template it’s time to customize - and if not, it’s time to re-customize. Your items descriptions and options will vary with your product, but selections need to be easy and then clearly presented to customers during checkout so they feel confident that they picked a medium shirt instead of a large or 50 GB instead of 25 GB drive. Also, make sure customers can edit options throughout the checkout process. People have a fear of hitting “back” during checkout, especially on a mobile device.
This may seem obvious, but link your mobile or app shopping experience to your standard e-commerce site so mobile users can enter account information and then have their address and billing info already queued up. Lots of e-commerce apps drop the ball here.
Last, look at the most minute details. Can a customer enter “Ave” instead of “Avenue” in the address bar, or will your app cry about it? To select “USA”, does a customer need to scroll through hundreds of countries? Get down to the granular and find nuisances that might derail a mobile purchase or sour the experience. Don’t make mobile shoppers wish they had waited in a checkout line instead.
2. Make the process feel secure
The Harris poll found that more than half of shoppers don’t feel safe entering credit card information into a mobile device. We can attribute some of this to website appearances. In some cases, merchants just need a crisper logo and ‘VeriSign Trusted” and “TRUSTe” insignias to create a sense of comfort. However, in most cases I believe mobile shoppers feel unsafe because of their environment.
In a train, bus, Starbucks or other public place, most people do not want to take out a credit card and punch in the number. They feel insecure viewing and transmitting sensitive payment information in those environments. People prefer to enter credit cards into a computer in the comfort of their home or office.
Mobile merchants should offer alternative payment methods like PayPal and Google Wallet, which let people make purchases by entering a password rather than a credit card number. On a bus, a buyer could be texting his mom or tweeting as far as the other passengers know. On mobile, digital wallets feel safe and they’re also quicker than typing in a credit card number, CVV, expiration date and separate billing information if you’re sending a gift.
3. Abandoned? Follow up
Mobile merchants need to view abandoned shopping carts as an opportunity rather than a failure. Even with a simple checkout process and convenient payment options, we know that a slow connection could discourage buyers from completing a purchase.
At the very least, send an email to buyers who abandoned their shopping cart within one week. In your company’s voice, just ask the person if they would like to complete their purchase and display the items. Consider throwing in 10 percent off or free shipping. Shoppers will appreciate this gesture, especially if they ran into technical issues while trying to buy from you.
To encourage your mobile shopping and reduce future abandonment, some companies distribute a newsletter designed specifically for mobile buyers. Sure, you can use it to promote products, but also send exclusive offers just for mobile buyers, share updates on security improvements and talk about what you’re doing to make mobile shopping easier.
If you’re committed to ratcheting up mobile purchases, optimize for a fast and secure checkout, catch up with shopping cart abandoners and then continue to do your homework. Study how shoppers reach, navigate and purchase on your site. Look at difference between iOS versus Android users, iPhone versus Samsung Galaxy and smartphone versus tablet action.
With each tweak to your mobile commerce experience, continue to assume that you have buyers, not browsers. Treat your customers like they traveled a long distance just to see if you had that t-shirt or pair of headphones they’ve been dying to purchase. And for everyone’s sake, just make it stupidly easy to buy something. When you provide the simplicity, speed and security digital shoppers want, you will have that infinite storefront that eludes most companies.
About the author
Deeon Brown is the Brand and Communications Manager for DailySteals.com, a leading electronic consumer and lifestyle products daily deal site.
About Daily Steals
One dark and stormy night, a team of undercover deal-seekers gathered in Brooklyn, New York. Their mission: to change the daily deal industry forever. Their plan: defeating retail prices. Despite overwhelming odds, they believed they had what it took to create something new and different. Through stealth, grit, and skillful deal-hunting, project “Daily Steals” was born. The rest, as they say, is history.