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Originally posted at Multichannel Merchant
The rise of ecommerce has led to the creation of millions of online shops, and many brick-and-mortar stores are taking a cue from those success stories and expanding their online presence. This turning point is especially important since online sales will account for 17% of all retail sales by 2022.
But a standard desktop website is not enough in 2018, with smartphones making up 53% of online traffic. And while stats like that lead retailers to spend a large portion of their marketing budgets on mobile web and native apps, mobile on its own doesn’t cut it either, with apps recording only a 21% conversion rate and the mobile web only seeing 6% of transactions completedin Q4 2017.
So how do you marry desktop and mobile applications? How do you create a truly successful omnichannel experience for your customers? Here are few ideas to help you connect the ecommerce dots across multiple platforms:
Digital commerce is competitive, and with giants like Amazon and Walmart offering a variety of products at low prices, mid-sized and small retailers should get creative to drum up interest in their products. One effective solution is offering incentives.
Incentive programs have long been a part of brands’ desktop marketing strategies, but they’re especially effective on mobile. One of the most successful examples is the Starbucks Rewards app. In addition to allowing customers to order and pay for purchases beforehand, the coffee company lets customers redeem rewards live in store. Convenience and visibility are key to the app’s success.
To take advantage of sales that incentives create, brands should make sure their rewards and point programs can be tracked successfully on mobile as well as desktop.
As consumers become more interested in taking an active role in their online purchases, the need for easy-to-access customer assistance has grown. Live chat has proven to be one of the most effective ways for retailers to answer customer questions in real time. A study by Zendesk revealed consumers prefer the conversational style of a live chat over emails or calls. In fact, the more chat messages exchanged, the higher the increase in customer satisfaction. Retailers can add the same live chat features available on desktop to their native apps. Chat apps and messaging software make it simple for retailers to communicate with their customers through mobile.
Following up with customers can also be an effective way to help them with existing purchases and encourage future buys. A simple survey or feedback form can be sent immediately after purchase, when the order arrives or both. Be sure your follow-up messages are synced across desktop, mobile web, and native apps so you don’t record the same information more than once.
According to a recent Forrester study, companies that offered flexible payment options saw sales increase by 17% and average orders grow by 21%. By making it easy for consumers to enter their information and use their preferred method of payment, more shopping carts are filled and more transactions are completed.
There are a number of applications available for both mobile and web that make it easy to accept a variety of payments. Paypal Here lets customers pay via debit card or their mobile PayPal account, and though GoPayment is only for mobile devices, it transfers all transactions to your accounting software so you can track both web and mobile business in one place.
Despite mobile’s growth, many retailers have yet to create truly optimized mobile experiences for their customers. Those that have, however, are seeing the benefits. Retailers’ apps accounted for 44% of all ecommerce transactionsin Q4 of last year, while the mobile web and desktop contributed 23% and 33%, respectively.
Marketing expert Aaron Strout echoes the need for an effective mobile retail experience by highlighting the differences between mobile and desktop but also emphasizing their connection.
One of the main differences is the amount of “real estate” each platform allows. Desktop content is richer, and since the screen is much larger than that of a smartphone, more information can be shared. The real estate on mobile is limited, offering a more streamlined experience without the desktop add-ons. But while mobile and desktop are inherently different, they’re most effective when used together.
“As marketers, we don’t need to look at mobile versus desktop being an ‘or,’ but rather an ‘and,” Strout says.
And while you may think your younger customers may deem desktop outdated, it will be a long time before consumers ditch desktop entirely. In the meantime, take advantage of both mobile and desktop to create a user experience that supports the customer journey every step of the way, from product discovery to customer assistance to payment and beyond.