For a generation that’s come to demand an Uber-like experience for everyday tasks, today’s customer expects their journey from online to in-store to be seamless, fast and convenient. This concept of omni-channel, or what was once called multi-channel, is not new, yet retailers have been struggling to catch up with this notion for 20 years.
Retailers and brands, as well as their investors, have talked about omni-channel and multi-channel for almost a decade now — not realizing that the mobile phone is the true omni-channel device. It’s the one thing that consumers carry with them no matter where they are. They carry their mobile phones while they’re sitting at home on their couch, in the office, walking downtown and in your store. If there is one experience that you want to get right, it’s mobile. It is the unifying experience that brings all these channels together. It is developing every consumer interaction with mobile at its center, starting with early user experience designs. It means revamping existing e-commerce interactions from the ground up, not simply retrofitting them for mobile.
This experience will quickly become the new normal thanks to the emerging mobile apps being developed by brands and retailers. Native mobile apps have opened up a world of opportunity, both for consumers and retailers. They convert 200-300% higher than mobile sites, which means in addition to establishing more engagement with shoppers, brands can generate significant lift in revenue by closing the conversion gap. Mobile apps are also a great way to acquire new users who are mobile first and start their discovery with app stores.
I believe there are five key innovations that are driving omni-channel commerce:
The more frictionless the transaction, the more likely a consumer will make a purchase. Consider the pre-mobile experience of browsing for trousers online. From a desktop, a customer searches a number of stores, finds the right trousers, and then goes to the store to try them on. Before now, there was no efficient way to ensure availability of size, color and style at the closest location. A salesperson might or might not be familiar with the description, and after a long trip to the backroom, may ultimately come back empty handed. But now, thanks to the agility of native mobile apps, a customer locates the desired trousers from a mobile device while walking down Fifth Avenue. The trousers are tagged, and the app shows that a store two blocks away indeed carries them, and in the right size and color. Ten minutes later, a customer can be in-store, with a sales person who, with a few swipes or clicks, alerts another employee to retrieve the style. She also has suggestions of other items the customer might like based on previous selections. The purchase is completed on the spot, with Apple Pay – no credit card, cash register or line. This isn’t the future—this is the now.
PredictSpring are optimistic about what lies ahead for our industry, which is why we have summarized the five technologies that retailers should really be focusing on this year.
Plan ahead with the rest of our tips on mobile retail shopping strategies and you’ll be well prepared this holiday season.