Commerce Insights: interview with Head of Strategy & Innovation at Fetch
Continuing our focus on mobile customer experience, we recently met up with Julian Smith, Head of Strategy & Innovation at our sister company, mobile-first digital performance agency Fetch. We grilled Julian on all things mobile – here’s what he had to say.
How is the customer journey changing in relation to mobile?
The customer journey is becoming increasingly complex and fragmented - Google’s concept of mobile micro moments illustrates this well. And whilst sales via smartphones are on the up, it is also important for retailers to recognise the increasing influence that mobile visits have at all stages of the customer journey – from consideration to advocacy.
According to Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends Report, global consumers are now spending an average of four hours per day on their smartphones. And whilst increased browsing time may translate directly into increased mobile web sales, mobile’s impact can also be seen in in-app conversions and in-store purchases. The challenge for retailers is to move away from a historically siloed approach to mobile, and to instead understand and optimise mobile’s role throughout the customer journey.
With consumers spending more and more time on their phones, what steps can retailers take to tap into this opportunity?
With shoppers increasingly seeking inspiration on social media and blogging platforms, particularly on the move, it is vital for retailers to optimise all of their assets and content for mobile. When it comes to video, for example, this might include adding subtitles, or testing out new formats, such as vertical video, 360 catwalk shows and live streams. Trialling innovative mobile ad formats such as Facebook Canvas adverts and Instagram Carousel Ads should also be on retailers’ agendas, to help with brand building.
At the consideration stage in particular, other platforms are generally more influential than the retailer’s own mobile site or app. Think about your partnership strategies with the likes of ASOS and Amazon, as well as carefully considering the role of mobile search. Google Shopping ads, for instance, allow retailers to provide shoppers with more information, including a product image, a title, price, store name and more.
What is the role of apps for retailers today?
Research by Flurry shows that, on average, 90% of time on mobile is spent in apps. Whilst this figure demonstrates the continuing importance of apps, retailers should ensure that any apps add real value for the consumer, by offering something unique that is not available on the standard site. In addition, apps should build in native smartphone functions, such as the camera, GPS, and tilt or shake functionality, to offer a slick, frictionless experience.
Retailers’ apps should incorporate some kind of loyalty scheme, particularly given that those shoppers who download an app are likely to already be more engaged than others. Whilst this might be in the form of points – such as Tesco’s PayQwiq app which offers additional Clubcard points with each transaction – retailers should also explore other options. For instance, retailers might consider sending out push notifications to app users before emailing their database, particularly about VIP events, sample sales or other exclusive offers. For me, having a good push notification strategy is key to the success of an app.
How do you see the role of mobile in the in-store experience?
Retailers should view mobile as their customers’ smart shopping companion. Not only do consumers use their mobile to extensively research brands and products pre-purchase, but their smartphone is also a trusted partner in store. Macy’s on-call shopping companion app is a great example. The app supports customers at specific stores by helping them locate and research items and brands. The app users a chatbot to offer instant feedback to users in a natural language, using AI to learn and improve its responses.
Retailers must also recognise the so-called “showrooming” phenomenon – whereby shoppers view products in-store before buying online at a lower price – and find ways to address it. For instance, by including in-store signage with instructions on where to find the latest deals online, retailers can attempt to redirect shoppers’ browsing.
What do you think is going to have the biggest impact on mobile commerce in the next three years?
For me, conversational interfaces – such as chatbots and voice-activated search powered by the likes of Amazon Alexa – will have a huge impact on mobile commerce and the retail sector overall. As well as allowing for more natural customer interactions, they will allow retailers greater personalisation and predictive targeting opportunities. Many companies in other sectors, particularly travel and financial services, are already experimenting quite successfully with chatbots, and I think we will see retail follow their lead, especially with the aim of driving repeat purchase.
Keen to find out more about the mobile commerce opportunity? Check out our latest article – How to optimise your mobile customer experience – produced in coordination with Fetch, to get practical mobile CX and UX tips.