Half Of Online Sales Are Now Mobile -- Is Your Brand Ready?

Just in case anyone out there is in any doubt that we are transitioning to a mobile-first world, there are two very interesting pieces of research out today. IMRG, whom we all know as the go-to guys on e-retail research have concluded that just over half of all online purchases are made on a mobile device -- that's 18% on a smartphone and 33% on a tablet. Together the two devices mean a tipping point has been reached where the laptop and desktop are surpassed (by just 2%) for the first time.

Another piece of research also caught my eye this morning, which examined who is the main driving force behind this. No prizes for guessing it's the Millennials. According to Quantcast, one in two Millennials are using their phone to research purchases, buying an average of two items per week from their smartphone. The research comes over as just a little self-serving, as it states how four in five have been influence by a mobile ad to make a purchase. My big question, though, would be if that is true, why are Millennials leading the mobile ad-blocking charge? Think we'll have to park that one for now.

Suffice it to say, however, that the research at least makes the point that Millennials are already living in a mobile-first world and dragging the rest of us in there with them. The less self-serving IMRG report, for example, shows that two in three (65%) among traffic to e-retailers is now coming from mobile devices.

For brands there is a huge opportunity to engage and delight customers as well as annoy them. It simply comes down to this. You can choose to know your customers or ignore them. The latter strategy is not really an option for any brand in a mobile-first world, so let's skip that one and get on to the knowing. How many times do you find that even visiting a Web site on a mobile device is a chore? It shouldn't happen given the push for Web developers to make sites that adapt to the device they're viewed on, but it still does.

Just as frustrating is a widespread disdain for customers through not allowing them to do simple things simply. If you're responding to a call to action in an email or message of some kind, why on earth should any part of what comes next include tapping in your address or reminding the site who you are? I'm still smarting after my recent attempt to book a service for my car with Halfords. Not only was its technology not working but when I eventually booked it didn't even bother logging the date of the service in the "My Halfords" part of their site. I tried responding to an email on my iPhone this morning, which suggested it's time to get the car serviced, and I then logged on to see when the service, which I had ironically already booked, was happening. Finding the "My Halfords" site is not only a pain to log on to but, to make matters worse, it doesn't actually tell you when your next booking is. What a supreme mobile differentiator they are -- the brand that likes to send you emails for services you have already booked direct with them and then frustrate you by not remembering the date for you.

BA is an honourable exception here. It knows who you are and flags up your next flight with a list of upgrade, car hire and meal ordering links to get the job done at the click of a link. I mention BA because it at least means Amazon isn't the only name I'm going to be holding up as an example.

But while we're at it, just use the Amazon app or their mobile Web site and see how plain and simple they make finding an item and getting it dispatched. Just try being your own customer -- and if the landing page opened by responding to a call to action doesn't allow that action to be done with a single click, then redesign it. If you can go to your mobile app or Web site and there's no way to guess what the customer is likely to want with an offer of carrying that function out with a quick click, then redesign it. And to finally out the brand I love more than any other, navigating Chelsea Football Club's mobile website has been easier lately than it used to be but just try buying a ticket without pinching and pull password boxes and ground info text. Clearly the content has been made adaptable to mobile, the commerce side most definitely has not.

So if you haven't tried being your own mobile customer, give it a go. Do it now and see whether the site or app could have done more to make it easier for you to convert or self-serve in some way. The truth is, you see, we're no longer wondering about when a mobile first world will happen -- we're starting to live it.

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