Search for:
How To's

The 5 Key Ingredients For a Great Mobile Shopping Experience

The shift from e-commerce to mobile commerce isn’t a seamless transition. Those who think this are in for a shock; slightly tweaking existing sales and digital-marketing plans is not going to get the job done. It’s for this reason that businesses, big and small, need to fundamentally rethink how they will approach mobile commerce in the next couple of years.

Experts predict that by 2018, mobile purchases will account for nearly half of all e-commerce transactions. Extrapolate that figure and you’ll see a time in the very near future when mobile devices overtake desktop purchases entirely. So it can never be too early to craft your mobile strategy.

You need to first understand what makes today’s mobile buyers different than traditional e-commerce shoppers.

How Mobile Shopper Behavior is Different

Switch between Devices

Mobile shoppers often use a combination of devices in the different stages of the shopping process. They may start a session on a mobile phone to browse rich visuals and once they know which product or brand to choose may revert to another device to close the deal. Lower conversion rates on smartphones should not mislead you into thinking that mobile doesn’t matter. It may be because visitors are switching to desktop or laptops to make the final purchase.

Location-based Search Queries

It’s worth considering that the search queries of mobile shoppers are usually location-based, and due to the smaller screens, users tend to select top results more often. Mobile shoppers also show less explorative behavior than their counterparts on larger devices. In order to increase your chances of being considered by mobile shoppers, you have to make sure to rank high in search results and offer location-aware information on your landing page.

Shorter Attention Spans

Smartphone users are always-on and you have to bear in mind that you are competing for your mobile visitor’s attention. Mobile shoppers tend to use their mobile phones in more distracting environments and are often running multiple concurrent tasks, such as checking Twitter, responding to a text message, reading emails, watching the latest Netflix series, all while exploring your shop at the same time. If it takes them too long to find what they’re looking for or if your mobile website or app are too complex, you will easily overwhelm your mobile visitors and risk frustrating them until they bounce off.

Use Mobile in Stores

Mobile shoppers are tethered to their devices and smartphones are an important purchase driver – over 79% of smartphone consumers use their phones while shopping in store. They scan barcodes, search for reviews, use coupons or pay for the purchase.

With that in mind, let’s look at some key ingredients required to write the perfect mobile-commerce recipe.

The 5 Key Ingredients

1) Personalization

Today’s mobile consumers are more concerned than ever about privacy issues, particularly their privacy. However, they’re also eager to share information with brands—provided the business in question personalizes the experience. The kicker is that, with mobile technology, there are more touchpoints than ever to reach the on-the-go consumer.

Gilt is an example for an online clothing retailer that has innovated such mobile personalization strategies. Gilt realized that over 50% of their sales were made on mobile devices. They took that figure and ran with it, adopting a “mobile first” mentality that informed their marketing strategies.

But rather than simply implementing behavior-based personalization, Gilt took it a step further and utilized specially designed algorithms to take into account such things as purchase history, shopping behavior and brand favoring. They then used this data to offer fully personalized sales to their mobile-app users, with the results being triple-digit increases in messaging interest.

Gilt's mobile shopping app with personalized offers
Gilt’s mobile shopping app with personalized offers

Beauty giant Sephora realized that adding a robust mobile component was a great way personalize the experience of their legions of make-up-counter customers in nearly 2,000 stores.

The result was the Beauty Insider rewards program, which, among other things, creates a digital customer profile that takes into account the person’s skin coloring. With 110 different shades of skin tone on the spectrum, having this data at the ready has allowed Sephora to quickly match their products to each individual customer in the program. The Beauty Insider is most effectively accessed via mobile, or at the iPad stations in Sephora’s brick-and-mortar locations.

2) Simplification

As mentioned above, mobile shoppers tend to use their devices in a busy environments that drive down the quality of their attention and patience. Mobile shoppers also have a lower tolerance for complexity and you have to make sure to simplify the whole process from product discovery to checkout.

If mobile shoppers do not find what they are looking for and are forced to navigate complex site structures, they are more likely to become frustrated by the mobile experience and do not even attempt to explore the site further.

Mobile Guided Selling solutions, such as Kelty’s mobile interactive product finders are perfectly apt in the mobile-commerce realm. They reduce the number of steps it takes a mobile shopper to discover relevant products and decide on a purchase. The result is an end-to-end mobile shopping experience that increases conversions.

Kelty - tent advisor on mobile
Kelty’s mobile tent finder – built with

3) Social Integration

More than 60 percent of time spent online is via mobile with a significant amount of online time devoted to social media. It stands to reason that businesses are trying to reach mobile shoppers via social networks and monetizing ‘social commerce’.

Social media promotion has too much conversion-driving potential to simply ignore it. Businesses should experiment with Social media advertising and incentivizing potential customers by offering them a discount or free product sample for sharing a tweet, or completing a Facebook action.

Facebook in particular detects a strong mobile momentum. They take the position that static commerce is a thing of the past, and that the smartphone, combined with social media, is the future.

4) Mobile Optimization and app automation

This goes far beyond making buttons and images bigger, or optimizing for touch. There’s still a large percentage of businesses out there who haven’t properly optimized their websites and marketing strategies for mobile.

Maintaining an omni-channel philosophy while designing said interface is key—customers need to be able to save their progress at any point in the purchase cycle and be able to transfer it to the device of their choosing at a later time.

As for mobile apps, you have to find the sweet spot between push notifications that are spammy and those subtle enough to put eyeballs back on the app and thus increase conversion and retention rates.

5) In-store ingenuity

There needs to be perfect synergy between the in-store and mobile experiences. All brick-and-mortar locations should offer customers free Wi-Fi across secure public networks, no exceptions. And these networks should support any and all consumer mobile applications that help drive engagement. The stats back this up, because, according to IHL Group, businesses that offered free Wi-Fi in their stores saw a marked increase in customer loyalty.

By integrating geo-locator or location-based technologies such as beacons or NFC, you can deliver relevant product information, services and offers at the precise moment the potential customer is in store and engaged. This helps educate the customer, thus allowing him or her to make a more informed decision.

Sephora got in on the action by incorporating beacons into their mobile app. With Sephora to Go, customers can access account info no matter where they happen to be. Then, when a customer enters a retail location, the beacon technology kicks in and alerts the customer to relevant in-store features and offers, all fully personalized. The potential for in-store ingenuity will only continue to increase as mobile technology improves.


Engaging and educating people on mobile is crucial, because mobile ecommerce is roaring and is expected to increase in importance in the near future. Already today, mobile is the ‘primary’ device for many online shoppers. Ultimately, businesses should be excited about the opportunities the integration of mobile in the customer’s decision journey offer …before the future catches up.


Join our community of 70,000+ marketing professionals, sales reps, business leaders, and executives.

Chris Wallace has been immersed in B2B/B2C marketing strategies for over five years. On top of being a regular contributor for, his work has appeared on the Huffington Post as well as other prominent sites.