In our last blog post we talked about how mobile has fundamentally changed consumers’ shopping behaviors, as explored in Parker Avery’s upcoing Point of View, Enhancing mCommerce Capabilities and Customer Experience: Key Considerations. We all know that having a mobile site, a mobile-optimized site or a mobile app is critical for most retailers’ success. But as many now understand, it’s not as easy as simply making traditional websites smaller with slightly less functionality to fit mobile screens and manageable using only thumbs. Customers who are using mobile to shop ultimately expect to find information (detailed descriptions, images, pricing, reviews, inventory availability, etc.) about the products they want to buy – before they even consider stepping inside the store or placing the item in their digital shopping cart. Retailers tout that mobile is another way to connect customers with their brand and that it’s all about the customer experience – both admirable objectives – however, to have a successful mobile channel means first nailing the convenience and speed of getting information to customers when they want it.
In this excerpt from the publication, we’ll talk about how to address some of the key challenges in creating a great mobile customer experience and reducing abandonment – namely reductions in clicks and wait times.
Click-Reduction: Not Just “How Many” But “When”
There has been significant thought capital spent on the importance of reducing the number of clicks involved in online shopping: viewing items, selecting attributes, reading reviews, choosing specific items and quantities, viewing shopping carts, making payments, and determining fulfillment (both in shipping and receiving). While reducing effort and clicks in each of these silos is important, their context within the overall shopping experience must also be taken into account.
Just as important, if not more so, than reducing the overall number of clicks is when those clicks are being mitigated. At the most basic, the most important area to optimize during an online experience is the time between item selection and checkout. Nearly 70% of customers who abandon a retailer’s site do so at this critical juncture.
Any opportunity to make the experience easier for the end user should be built into the overall design. Optimization at this point in the customer journey is one of the few areas that nearly guarantee positive sales impacts.
Cellular Providers and “Wait Time Abandonment”
For all of the work and understanding that goes into creating an exceptional mobile-optimized site, there is also an element that retailers cannot control: the end-user’s cellular provider. Shoppers with different providers, devices and plans can have vastly different experiences in accessing and consuming the same functionality and content.
The mobile channel typically has high frequency of access, lower time spent per access, and in general lower conversion than more traditional channels, with many gating factors coming from individual cellular environments. In terms of raw speed, access from many tablets, laptops, and traditional desktop computers happen over robust Wi-Fi or wired connections, which can mask a risk of “wait time abandonment” (i.e., the time a customer will wait for a screen to load before abandoning the site) for users outside of the home. This type of abandonment is particularly devastating as it contains a two-fold negative impact to the retailer. First and at a minimum, the abandonment removes the user temporarily – and possibly permanently – from the channel; second, it creates a negative experience and / or a lack of confidence with the brand as a whole. As we covered earlier, these are (or were) customers who intended to make a purchase in the very near future, but now may do so somewhere else.
How serious is “wait time abandonment?” A mere three seconds of load wait will see a majority of customers abandon a site. Worse, abandonment skyrockets to nearly 100% if a page takes ten seconds or more to load.
With 70% of cell phone users preferring a mobile optimized site over an app they have to download, the pressure is on to deliver a great experience despite the limitations created by cellular networks.
In-store Wi-Fi access creates some buffer to challenges imposed by cellular coverage and device capabilities, however there are limits: consumers must be physically within the store and have their Wi-Fi turned on, access to the store’s wireless network must be quick and easy, and any privacy concerns must be appropriately managed.
So clearly there are challenges to achieving retail mobile nirvana – and not all are completely controllable. However, a solid understanding of how, when and where customers actually want to shop and interact with your brand – as well as ensuring your own customer value proposition permeates the overall experience – you will be better positioned to define, design and implement your mobile strategy.