The 2013 holiday season experienced a record number of sales from mobile devices: of the $601.8 billion in sales, $95.7 billion was generated online, and 16.6% of these sales were mobile. That’s not to say mobile shopping has reached perfection. According to a recent Harris poll, an alarming 47 percent of shoppers abandoned mobile purchases and more than half did not attempt the purchase later on a computer, causing an estimated $15.9 billion in lost sales.
Looking ahead to anticipated 2014 sales, a new forecast from the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts retail industry sales to increase 4.1 percent over the previous year, a slight uptick over the estimated 3.7 percent growth in 2013. Online sales are expected to continue a solid 9 to 12 percent growth, mapping the estimated 10.3 percent gain in 2013. Mobile will continue to grow: by 2017, eMarketer predicts retail sales made on mobile devices will exceed $100 billion.
With mobile becoming a far more powerful factor in consumer shopping, retailers are beginning to realize the mobile shopping experience is in serious need of an upgrade. New developments such as Apple looking at rolling out a mobile payments system could help the industry innovate better ewallet technologies. But before the customer gets to the ewallet part of the buying process, the steps leading up to purchasing also need improvement. A key part of this experience is the product information we are pushing out to consumers. As consumers toggle back and forth between their smartphone, iPads, emails and websites, there is one element that crosses all these channels: product information. Right now, consistent, relevant, and accurate product information management is a missing link in ecommerce and the result is consumers finding different versions of information depending on which channel they are accessing at the moment.
A few improvements to consider:
Start your product information push with relevant and accurate data. Effective product information management is the means of ensuring this accuracy and it involves having a good information sharing platform in place. Through the use of collaborative technology hosted in the cloud, it is now possible to easily generate, review, approve, and share all product information among internal product development, merchandising and marketing teams, as well as all vendors in the product supply chain. It is the most effective means of ensuring, quickly, that all team members are in agreement on product details the consumer will see.
Make sure your product information is consistent across all channels. According to comScore, 46% of smartphone owners have conducted some type of mobile shopping activity, ranging from taking product pictures, researching products or prices, locating nearby stores, or searching for coupons. To avoid customer frustration, ensure that the information is in sync with what customers will find on any channel they choose to employ.
Refresh data regularly and efficiently to keep the customer interested. Shoppers expect products to be available now in an accelerated timeframe, and they want new information, whether it be promotions or availability, right away. By using a collaborative platform with centralized data, you can distribute new information with speed and accuracy.
A mobile solution that provides complete product information – including specifications, available inventory and crowd-sourced reviews – will go a long way in engaging customer interest. This year, as mcommerce continues taking an even bigger piece of the retail market, retailers need to step up their product information management to avoid turning off consumers and leaving billions of sales dollars on the table.