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Why Having a Mobile Strategy is Mandatory in Today’s Retail Industry

Not too long ago, having a mobile presence was just an afterthought. Even the most innovative businesses only focused on having a solid strategy in place for desktop users. But, after the explosion of mobile devices, ignoring the changes in how consumers shop could be a serious mistake.

Consider the fact that as much as 55% of all internet access in 2012 came from handheld devices. More importantly, as of August 2014, Shopify reported numbers showing that 50.3% of all ecommerce traffic was through mobile devices. Ebay has even gone so far as to predict that by the end of this year, 30% of all e-commerce sales will take place on a mobile device and the mobile shopper is already responsible for $200 billion in revenue.

Clearly, embracing the mobile mindset is more important than ever before. But creating a compelling mobile experience is something that most companies aren’t familiar with. After all, mobile shoppers are a relatively new type of consumer, and they have a different set of values when they shop. For the mobile shopper, simplicity and efficiency are what matters.

Having an effective mobile strategy does two things for your business. First off, a high-quality mobile experience makes shopping more convenient than ever before. And making sure that mobile shoppers get the same level of attention as desktop users actually helps your business to stand out.

Mobile-optimized Website or Mobile App?

Having the right mobile strategy can be the difference between impressing your potential consumer and scaring them away. Google has already implemented an algorithm that punishes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.

With so many options and potential strategies in the ecommerce landscape, it’s not surprising that companies are struggling to find the right mobile strategy – there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution.

Your mobile strategy needs to revolve around the idea that your shopper has absolutely NO time to spare. The easier you can make the shopping process for them, the happier they’ll be.
Think about it. Mobile shoppers are buying products while the rest of life is happening around them. Giving them a simple process is critical because they’re more likely to get distracted by daily life.

Your biggest decision will be figuring out whether to focus on optimizing your site for mobile or a creating a mobile app. You’ll eventually be able to build both, but figuring out which to start with can be tricky. Essentially, it depends on what you plan on achieving.

Mobile-optimized Website

Responsive Design is the fastest and easiest way to create and manage a mobile-optimized site for all devices that adapts to different screen sizes automatically.

A mobile website, on the other hand, is specifically designed for mobile devices and can offer a maximum level of usability and functionality. However, it is also more expensive than a responsive site as you will have to maintain multiple sites.

Whether you are following a responsive design approach or are creating a mobile site, be sure to consider:

  • the smaller screen
  • limited connection speed
  • different interaction methods (e.g. touch-friendly buttons)

to deliver the mobile user experience and functionality your visitors expect.

Responsive design by Shopify
Shopify offers its users several responsive templates to deliver a great mobile shopping experience

Native app

A native app is developed for specific mobile operating system and lets you offer an outstanding UX that is often better than that of mobile-optimized sites. It offers you multiple ways to get creative and engage users with features such as location-based push notifications or use device hardware like cameras or messaging functionalities.

However, there are some drawbacks to mobile apps: Creating an app is costly and it may not be available on all devices. Furthermore, it takes time to get your app approved and listed on OS-specific stores, and you have to invest into marketing and promotion to make your target group aware of it.

H&M mobile application
The fashion retailer H&M offers one of the most complete and comprehensive mobile apps

Although there is quite some effort that has to go into the development of an app, it is an effective method to increase brand awareness and loyalty of mobile shoppers. However, keep in mind that 25% of all apps are deleted after one use, unless they provide value and deliver a great user experience.

Usablenet has created a guide to help you decide on the best mobile strategy for you:

A guide to app strategy decision making
© Usablenet

For starters, we recommend focusing less on the dedicated mobile app and making a responsive website your main priority. While having a dedicated mobile app makes sense (in the long run), pouring your resources into building a responsive website first certainly has its benefits.

To create the ultimate mobile experience, you’ll need to respect the power of simplicity

Remember the golden rule: make an effort to simplify the shopping experience for your users. You’re probably already giving desktop shoppers this experience, so why wouldn’t you give mobile shoppers the same luxury? Taking advantage of solutions and approaches that have proven to work well on desktop and mobile, specifically interactive product advisors and streamlined checkouts, can help you create a mobile experience that not only impacts the experience positively, but ultimately, increases conversion and sales.

It’s much easier for your shoppers to decide and complete their purchases when you’re guiding and helping them through that process – Taking care of your mobile shoppers is just as important as taking care of your desktop shoppers.

Do you know companies that have perfected their mobile strategy? Share your comments below.

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Brian works with digital media agencies and companies, providing business and content marketing advice, and consults with startups about their social media marketing strategies.