Commentary

Are You Doing Enough For Mobile Moms?

If mobile is indeed the glue that holds all of a retailer’s channels together, then mothers are using that glue to hold their busy lives together. According to eMarketer, moms are increasingly using smartphones for everything from saving time to killing time and everything in between. A few of the key points from eMarketer’s research:

  • More moms are always mobile - 90 percent reported that they have their phone with them in stores, the car, at home in front of the TV, in the kitchen and in bed.
  • Moms are mobile first - 70 percent said that if forced to choose, they would keep their smartphone and ditch their tablets and laptops.
  • Moms do it all - More than half of those surveyed use their smartphone for nearly every activity the survey asked about, from shopping to socializing.

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This obviously provides great opportunities for mobile sites and apps that help these busy moms to be more productive because 70 percent of U.S. moms work outside of the home. But the savvier they get, the less they'll put up with poor mobile experiences. Any brand or retailer looking to cultivate a loyal, lasting relationship with mothers would be well advised to focus on creating a great mobile experience.

The stakes are high. In fact, a Google study found that 61 percent of mobile shoppers will bounce if they don’t see what they are looking for right away. Those shoppers won't give your site search or faceted navigation a chance. And worse yet, they’re not just gone. Harris Interactive found that 9 out of ten Americans who have a poor mobile experience have negative feelings about that brand. Neither of these studies broke out mothers specifically as a cross-tab, but I believe many moms use up all of their patience with their children and spouse and have little left for brands with bad mobile sites.

So what does a mother want in her mobile experience? Well, I'm not a mother -- but I am married to one, and she wants to:

  • Save time - Less thumb typing and an easy, sometimes visual path to the product or information she needs is key.
  • Kill time - A fun way to uncover news, pictures or places that surprise and delight.
  • Be appreciated - Mothers can be intensely loyal to brands that treat them right by listening to what they like and anticipating what they need.

Mobile sites that can handle these three use cases for busy mothers will earn a place in their hearts (and home screens). Those that can’t will be discarded like an old pair of mom jeans.

So how should you evaluate your mobile site to see just how well it will appeal to moms? It’s actually fairly easy, although making the necessary fixes may not be. Put yourself in their virtual shoes. 

  • Choose a sampling of 10 products - five with specific names and five that are more general, yet have clear descriptions -- and see how many clicks and pages it takes to get to that product. This will give you an idea of how well your site works for moms who are looking to save time.
  • Does your site have any dynamic, interesting content? Is there a good visual feel to browsing? And better yet, can a user actually navigate to interesting or similar products via those images? In other words, does your mobile experience take the “killing time” use case into account? Or is it purely for those who want to search or use category navigation to find products -- neither of which addresses this use case.
  • Does your mobile experience learn from a shopper’s behavior each time they visit (bonus points if you also learn from their desktop and tablet visits) in order to learn their preferences and deliver content that she will appreciate? In short, are you listening to her engagement to delight her with a great experience? Imagine a mother who frequents a brick-and-mortar store in her neighborhood. The staff gets to know her and can make recommendations that fit her tastes. Why shouldn't your mobile site treat a loyal mom the same way?

As many studies have suggested historically, women will be a major driver of holiday shopping -- and a large portion are expected to shop and/or do research with mobile devices. The question for retailers is: "Are you doing enough to target all use cases?"

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