Web and mobile can be the perfect pairing — if you do it right.
Retailers are on the mad dash to expand and retain their customer base; those without a strong mobile channel are going to lose the race.
Lauren Penticost is the mobile product lead for a major U.K. retail company and shared her perspective on where the intersection of mobile & retail is headed.
Web and mobile aren’t two sides to the same coin.
In reality, the two channels are more different than they appear. Web has been around for a lot longer, and there are many well-established “best practices and rules.” There are more barriers to innovation through web due to the multitude of copyrights that could come around to bite you.
Mobile web is also typically a responsive version of desktop and the customer expectation is similar. Thus, the idea of changing established patterns is tough to sell internally.
When navigating the waters of mobile apps, retailers need to be “more reactive and less risk averse” in order to truly engage users. The trick is to “try out more things because you’re less sure of what the right approach is.”
“For a website, you could have 10 releases a day and the customer wouldn’t really know about it unless you actively promote a specific feature.”
Furthermore, consumers are able to see every new update when it comes to apps. User expectations are much higher as a result, and retailers need to think carefully about each update in order to suit customers’ needs. Consumers are expecting innovation because they’re “used to the Facebooks and the Instagrams surprising and delighting them with new features.” There is a constant need to iterate, and the pace of development moves at a lightning pace.
With great power comes great responsibility.
The power of mobile lies in its accessibility — phones are always in consumers’ pockets and serve as “24/7 touch points” between the retailer and customer. Due to its personalized nature, consumers expect the platform to be super sophisticated in order to offer a unique experience than web browsing. Consequently, developers need the ability to drive customization as fast as possible.
The average app loses more than 75% of its users after one day — ARC
Web and mobile go hand in hand.
Mobile and web channels are meant to enhance each other. They shouldn’t be exact replicates or compete for traffic. Lauren stressed the importance of finding a fine balance between the two platforms in order for an e-commerce company to succeed. Shareholders often want to treat them almost identically, and uniformly implement a feature across all channels. However, businesses need to understand the difference between users’ missions on web platforms versus mobile.
“Create the right experience in the right place. Even if they’re different, it will pay off.”
Here is a great read about using a balanced combination of web and mobile personalization to your advantage.
What does the future hold for e-commerce and mobile?
When retail first met mobile, apps were essentially just websites repackaged for mobile devices. Since then, companies have grown to focus more on the app as its own experience. In the upcoming years of e-commerce and mobile, Lauren sees the golden opportunity to bridge the gap between physical and online sales. For a retailer with multiple channels, one of the main challenges is making the process of jumping between them seamlessly.
“How do we make that journey on an app so contextual that it knows what you’re going to do next?”
For example, the Zara mobile app has a built-in barcode scanner for use in-store. If you see a shirt you like that isn’t available in your size, a simple scan can redirect you to the nearest stocked store, or to the retail website. Simple, accessible, and effective.
What’s the next step?
In Lauren’s experience, there’s a tendency with app development to focus too much on the technology and lose the consumer-centric point of view. Especially in retail, it’s easy to just make the app “a slicker, faster version of web.”
“The key to being in the lead for mobile e-commerce is giving customers the extra mile experience.”
Keeping in mind the need for personalization and constant iteration, A/B testing may just be the perfect solution. What better way to continually customize an app based on consumer needs without App Store updates? Take a look at the rest of our blog for more on that topic!
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