At Shop.org’s recent Online Merchandising Workshop, one of the key takeaways was that retailers know mobile is the future in engaging the customer, whether millennials or baby boomers. In the omnichannel environment, the channel that continues to gather influence as a potent force is mobile. Mike Jones, PlumSlice SVP, Strategic Partnership, offers his observations on what retailers should be thinking about in creating closer mobile relationships with customers.
Q. Mobile was on everyone’s top five list at OMS this year. What are retailers focusing on in terms of mobile engagement?
A. They’re starting to get a better sense that, besides being a shopping channel, mobile is first and foremost, an information and social media channel, and customers are relying heavily on the product information and peer feedback that is delivered via mobile.
Q. Are smartphones losing some of their dominance to tablets in terms of customer search?
A. iPads and other devices are certainly adding to the challenge of delivering a customer product experience that is equally effective on all mobile devices. Whether smartphones or tablets, customers expect to get all the information they want, when they want it.
Q. What are some of the ways in which retailers can be more effective in reaching mobile customers?
A. One area of improvement is video and graphically enticing imagery. We are finding that compelling visuals will drive conversion rates up and prompt more clickthroughs. For the millennials and even younger customers, the YouTube experience sets up an expectation that product imagery should be equally fun and inspiring. Also don’t discount the older shoppers. Social media usage is increasing among all age groups.
Q. How can a retailer be more inventive on mobile?
A. Well first, you have to really understand the mindset of your customer. PlumSlice believes the way to do this is to engage the customer further upstream in the design process. Our technology enables customers to collaborate on ideas well before any concept goes to manufacturing and we use the social media channels our customers love: Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter. They can post what they like and it gives retailers a valuable multi-faceted look at what their customers find attractive.
Q. So, connect this, for us, to mobile engagement?
A. Sure. Now you have this repository of information about your customer’s likes and dislikes and you can employ this data to fine tune what you are delivering via mobile. For example, if your customer is a heavy Facebook contributor it makes sense that you should be pushing content via Facebook that he or she will no doubt be accessing via mobile. It’s all about creating the closest mobile relationship you can with your customer, using the ways in which they prefer to communicate.
Q. What we’re hearing is that there must be much tighter synergy between the customer experience on their favorite social media sites and their mobile activity.
A. Yes. We often hear about a ‘seamless customer experience.’ What that signifies is that, from the customer’s perspective, they expect to be able to get the same level of product information and pleasant experience while sitting in a coffee shop, using their smartphone, that they would get accessing their desk computer.
Q. Okay. What else can we do to close more sales via mobile?
A. It’s important to factor in the presence of physical stores and the popular practice customers have of going into location-based stores to get a look at goods and decide on a purchase. We need to ensure our product information not only syncs up with all mobile devices but also with the information found in a physical store. Our customers now have little patience with data glitches. It’s the fastest way to lose a sale. Miscues in information will quickly turn off any customer.