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Retailers Lure Mobile Back-to-School Shoppers With Ease of Purchase

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Retailers Lure Mobile Back-to-School Shoppers With Ease of Purchase

Jaimy Szymanski August 4, 2015

With back-to-school shopping season nigh, retailers are searching for new ways to engage customers – both on- and offline. Brick-and-mortar locations still serve the masses during heavy shopping periods throughout the year, but this back-to-school season, savvy retailers will focus on a growing type of consumer: the mobile shopper.

Mobile shopper app website

[Credit: eMarketer, Pixlee]

The mobile shopper demographic is already nearing its tipping point. According to a recent study by Synchrony Financial, 45% of shoppers report they use a mobile device to do shopping-related activities, such as researching product information, sharing products, purchasing, and reviewing. For many, much of this activity is done through mobile search and applications, versus mobile websites. Why? It’s all about the experience. Fifty-four percent of mobile Millennials report that mobile shopping apps are easier to use than their mobile website counterparts. When users run into issues with mobile site functionality, continuity of experience, and ease of use, they’ll bail for more seamless paths to purchase.

Although the majority of customers still head in-store or online for their back-to-school shopping, global sales on mobile devices are expected to grow tremendously in 2015 – to $217B, up from $76B in 2014. It’s a trend that can’t be ignored if retailers wish to stay relevant among new generations of consumers searching out native mobile experiences in every facet of life, including how and where they purchase goods and services. Pixlee reports that one in two millennials has already downloaded a mobile shopping app, with Amazon, Etsy, and Forever21 reigning favorites due to their mobile-first approach to experience design.

Retailers looking to stay ahead of the back-to-school shopping curve must keep pace with new forms of mobile consumer engagement, taking a page from the forward-thinking playbooks of Wish, Macy’s, and Everlane.

Wish buys Locket to add shopping to our mobile lockscreens

In July, mobile shopping app Wish acquired Locket, a startup that makes lockscreen apps (primarily for news content and messaging) for Android devices. Wish is beloved for its marketplace of many brands at its users fingertips, recommended based on purchase history and fashion interests. Adding Locket to its mobile development arsenal, and we can expect to see personalized product recommendations on our lockscreens – eliminating a few taps to purchase that may otherwise introduce friction in the purchase path and decrease conversion. I’ve written about Locket’s value proposition and trailblazing UI in the past, too.

Macy’s works with Pinterest on “Buy” button integration

Pinterest "Buy It" Button

Pinterest “Buy It” Button

What’s the easiest way to bridge the gap between mobile browsing and purchase? Add a “buy now” button that’s pre-connected to the user’s credit card information and shipping address. Pinterest is working with Macy’s, among other companies, to seamlessly integrate buy buttons (“buyable pins”) into existing mobile app and website architecture. Google, Facebook, and Twitter are testing similar quick-to-convert buttons with retailers and hotels, often positioned within mobile ads on their networks. This could also aid in mobile ad conversion to purchase, as adMarketplace currently reports mobile ads become sales 84% less often than clicks from desktop search.

Everlane delivers exclusive deals to mobile-first shoppers

Fashion startup Everlane has developed a mobile app that rewards its mobile shoppers with “early access” product launches, exclusively delivered through its app. These items are the most anticipated fashion staples of each season, enticing shoppers to download its new app versus shop online. By offering exclusive content to Everlane customers via its mobile experience, Everlane is sure to see an uptick in usage and in-app purchasing. Oh, and it’s also a weather app … in case you need up-to-the-minute recommendations on what to wear to school, rain or shine.

Jaimy Szymanski

Jaimy Szymanski is a mobile and customer experience analyst, focusing on how organizations adapt core digital strategies to serve the new “connected customer.” She has developed multiple research artifacts on the topics of digital transformation, consumer mobile, customer experience design, and social business strategy. Jaimy also has nearly 10 years experience advising companies of all sizes, in varied industries, that are affected by emerging technologies.

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