This is a guest blog post by Erin Schwartz, the lead marketing specialist behind 123Print. 123Print offers customizable print products for business and individuals, including the ability to make your own business cards and design other promotional items.
How easy is it to shop online with your mobile device? A couple days ago I was reading an online article on my phone about the favorite authors of several New Yorker writers. One author struck me as particularly interesting and I hopped on Amazon to see if I could buy one of his books, used. Less than a minute later I had received an email with a confirmation number and a “thank you” for my purchase.
When it’s that easy to purchase items on your mobile device, why wait to get home and log on to your computer to make a purchase? In fact, why wait at all? By making online purchases from mobile devices on your website quick, easy and worry free, you can greatly increase your sales potential. And if the growth in use of retailer apps is any indication — growing almost 600 percent over the past year — mobile sales should be the main focus for retailers in the future.
Mobile and Mortar Shopping
Facebook jumped onto the mobile gifting wagon in limited areas this past September 2012 with the reincarnation of Karma, a gift app that the social media giant purchased in May. The feature became available to all Facebook users in December 2012 and functions on the basis of gift recommendations based on your friends’ preferences.
As of 2013, Facebook is taking this gifting feature a step further with the Facebook reusable gift card. Essentially, Facebook users can purchase a gift card for a certain amount from places such as Target or Olive Garden and the recipient is notified immediately of the gift. The gift card is sent through the mail and as the recipient uses it, he or she can keep track of the amount left through the account settings tab on Facebook. The card can be recharged and reused and it can even hold multiple gift amounts such as $10 at Starbucks, $25 at Barnes & Noble and $50 at Olive Garden.
It’s a growing field of commerce that has tentatively been dubbed “Mobile and Mortar”: consumers using mobile devices to send real gifts from online retailers, as well as using their mobile devices to price compare, check reviews and look up item information while in-store. In fact, according to Flurry Analytics, between December 2011 and December 2012, the use of mobile devices for price comparisons went up 247 percent and the use of all shopping apps went up 274 percent. But what many retailers are discovering is that the key to increasing mobile sales is to make it easier to purchase from mobile websites instead of through individuals apps.
Mobile websites more important than ever
More often than not, if you’re looking up an item online, you’re using a search engine to browse the web as opposed to using a particular retailers’ app. Why? Not only is a search engine an automatic go-to for most mobile device owners but using a search engine, as opposed to a retailer app, typically allows you to price compare and find reviews instead of committing to just one store. In fact, 36 percent of smart phone users use them to read product reviews on retail sites while 47 percent use them to learn more about a product (http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Majority-of-US-Smartphone-Owners-Use-Devices-Aid-Shopping/1008971). If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you could potentially be missing out on a good percentage of your customers.
Keeping customers on your site
Once consumers find your site, the last major hurdle is getting them to follow through with purchases. One of the biggest complaints of online retailers over the past year has been shopping cart abandonment rates. About 67 percent of all shopping carts are abandoned at some point in the shopping process.
To cut down on this, online stores have employed several different strategies with varying degrees of success. Some of the main solutions have been consistently assuring customers not only that the purchasing process is secure, but that returns and exchanges are easy and welcome. Many online marketing firms also stress the importance of including privacy and trust information next to personal information fields. Even if it’s just a click-through to legal information, reminding potential clients that their personal information will not be shared or sold is very encouraging and can easily make the difference in a sale.
Lastly, employing little reminders when clients leave your site before making a purchase could help bring them back at a later date. Brief emails such as “Just a reminder that you still have [blank] items in your cart” or even “How might we have made your shopping experience better?” might help to encourage the completed sale of an abandoned shopping cart.
Online retail is a constantly changing landscape and a major challenge for business owners and marketers alike. The best thing you can do to improve sales is to look for overall trends and try to keep up with the curve.
What ways have you found to encourage potential customers to stay on your website? Have any marketing plans worked well for you or failed unexpectedly? What seems to be the number one issue for you regarding shopping cart abandonment? Let me know in the comments below.
PS If you need business cards checkout my website: http://www.123print.com/business-cards