Take a moment and think about how you interact with your mobile device, how do you research or make purchases on your mobile phone? You’ll quickly realize that your path to purchase most often begins with a keyword search, which often is vastly different than how you navigate a dot-com site or your local brick and mortar retailer. Infact, 56% of all retail searches occur on mobile devices. Mobile access has changed the way we as consumers interact with the world and it has significantly changed the path to purchase. Mobile was once used for showrooming purposes, sending retailers into a tailspin about how to ensure shoppers didn’t browse in store and convert elsewhere. Today, our challenge is different, mobile devices and behaviors have evolved, they’re more intelligent and more capable to handle a complete shopping journey. While showrooming and browsing behaviors still occur, the completion of the purchase on the mobile device is accounting for more and more of a retailer’s revenue. According to Internet Retailer, mobile commerce is growing at 3 times the rate of US ecommerce overall, accounting for more than $104 billion in 2015.
Today’s challenge is focused on how retailers ensure that customers are finding what they’re looking for on mobile devices so that they ultimately convert. This begs the question, how well is your site search performing? Are your customers finding what they seek? Is your site search delivering a customer centric and mobile considerate experience? What metrics are you using to determine it’s success or failure?
The traditional and dated way of measuring site performance (and commerce search within) by Revenue Per Session (RPS) and conversion were valid when ecommerce was simply just a dot-com site, which is not the case for today’s world. Today, it is essential to measure the performance of each individual feature that leads to a purchase/conversion. In the case of site search, success is defined by the relevance of the results delivered by a search engine to an individual user.
Search is innately unique in the respect that it is the single place in digital shopping journeys where users communicate with technology in their own words and expect a comprehensive response or set of responses. By default, search demands 1:1 communication, and is one of the most impactful places to influence and enhance the customer experience. Search is often a retailer’s first impression, especially on mobile, it is a critical opportunity to succeed by providing relevant and individualized results. Commerce Search accelerates product discovery and drives consumer conversion by delivering the most relevant results for each unique search query. The accuracy of the responses delivered by search is measured by what is known as “Findability”.
Findability a term first coined by Professor Michael Hendron, whose research indicates that nearly a third of e-commerce shoppers use site search, and 90% of buyers will probably use it. Yet these same sought after buyers only find what they seek in half of all site searches.
Since when did the retail industry accept a success rate of just 50%?
Given that search is a feature most often chosen by a determined and informed consumer who knows exactly what he/she wants, especially in ecommerce, it is essential to measure how successful the actual search experience is for that individual. This is why Findability must be a focal point of consideration when analyzing the performance of site search. Findability tells merchants whether consumers find what they are looking for and if they are ultimately pleased with those items. The conversion of these shoppers can only come if they have in fact located the items they desire. It is a cause and effect relationship, and a relationship that if treated right will thrive. When consumers trust that their searches will yield results they’re satisfied with, their search frequency and dependency simultaneously increases.
Are you measuring your site search properly? Are your customers finding what they’re looking for? Perhaps the metrics you’re currently using to determine performance are not providing you with the whole story. To get deeper insight into how to enhance your site search performance and learn more about Findability please visit https://richrelevance.com/relevance-cloud/find/ to stay in the know about our newest product launch Find™, the next generation of personalized search for an omnichannel world.
Can a better user experience disrupt an industry? I don’t mean digital-only experiences like Angry Birds or FarmVille, but industries with physical assets and high marginal costs like taxis and 200,000 square foot stores. Uber and Amazon are proving that user experience disrupts. Amazon accounted for 24% of all U.S. retail growth last year and taxi license values have dropped 28% since Uber launched. Increasingly, our clients are telling us that their customers compare their user experience’s to that of Uber and Amazon — not Kohl’s to Target, Nordstrom to Saks, Williams Sonoma to Crate & Barrel, or Sam’s Club to Costco. Today, your competition, especially in user experience, has no bounds. Vertical silos no longer apply, you’re competing against whomever has created the most innovative and user-centric experience.
Google predicted this six years ago and has consistently repeated the warning ever since, however, few retailers responded. It’s difficult to head this kind of warning when ecommerce is growing at 30% year-over-year and there’s no pain in sight, but this year the pain arrived. So what can retailers do?
One of our luxe department store clients conducted a study a year ago to determine what their clients wanted in their user experience. They were considering everything from pop-up stores, in-home trunk shows to tablet apps. The response was oddly simple and overwhelmingly clear: whatever you do make sure it works on the shopper’s 5 inch smartphone screen and equip in-store sales associate’s with tablets rich with useful information. They were a bit surprised. Women standing in a gorgeous multi-story luxury department store would want rich, personalized information on their 5” screen? Overwhelmingly, yes. And when she was talking face-to-face with a high-paid, well-trained sales associate she wanted the associate to have the same personalized information so they could share it on an 8” screen? Yes again!
Like most mega-trends, it’s not surprising in retrospect. After all this is the generation that publishes their lives across social media, invented the selfie, and stares at their beloved 5” screen every chance they get. Although we’ve heard it time and time again, we’ve now been told that mobile dominates, plain and simple.
So with mobile applications in mind, here are the low-hanging fruit we’re seeing our retail clients go after:
Offline sales: Add store and contact center sales transactions to your web and mobile app customer profiles. Transactional data is relatively small. It only takes four minutes to upload Cyber Monday sales for a huge retailer such as Macy’s.
In-store mode for customers’ mobile app: Stores are information rich environments, but so are smartphone apps, so get them working together. JCPenney, L.L.Bean, Patagonia and many others are doing just this. Start with something as simple as letting customers scan an item’s barcode and retrieve real time prices, inventory, accessory recommendations, other product recommendations and even editorial content. Standing in front of a 4 foot hunk of plastic is useful, but so is watching an awesome video on how to use it; feeling the fabric of a dress is experiential, but so is seeing how it was fitted and flowed on the runway. If your customers like scanning items then add more proactive service features such as passively detecting location with beacons and then streaming personalized recommendations and content as they move about the store.
Sales associate app: Monsoon was our first client to add personalization to sales associate tablets. After extensive testing, they rolled it out to 325 stores, saw a 130% increase in average order value for customers served with the app compared to customers who were not. Customers loved the app, 84% of customers gave it an excellent rating and they purchased 1.3x more merchandise. Since then Barneys New York, Ann Taylor and others have rolled out similar sales associate apps.
In-store browse abandonment emails: If 80% of a retailer’s sales are in-store and only 25% of store customers use the apps described above, then that will generate as much customer-level data as their website, doubling the behavioral info available for driving personalization. One obvious and high ROI use case is browse abandonment (retargeting) emails following store visits that did not result in a sale.
There are a myriad of ways to create impactful customer experiences across channels, and if it hasn’t become evident, now is the time. There is no one size fits all for omnichannel personalization, after all that would be counter intuitive. If you’re interested in learning more watch my webinar on How to Utilize Your Customer Experience to Disrupt your Market or feel free to reach out to me at DBryan at RichRelevance.com to start sketching a personalization roadmap that best represents your brand, channels, tech stack, budget, and ROI goals.
“Mobile First” is the latest catchphrase in omnichannel retail since the smartphone is most often the starting point for consumers beginning their path to purchase. Personalization is essential in enhancing the mobile experience–on both mobile site and native app–because it delivers the most relevant products, content and offers to consumers within limited screen real estate.
The seminal invention of our era has been the mobile phone. All across the world it is fundamentally changing the rules of politics, commerce and manners. The impact of the mobile phone on politics has been profound. From Tiananmen Square twenty years ago, to the recent Arab Spring, the phone as a tool of modern networking has caught government by surprise. The immediacy of textings and postings have stripped the abilities of modern censors to monitor, much less control. It has given new meaning to “one man, one vote.” In that sense, it is the ultimate expression of democracy.
Across many parts of the developing world, the mobile phone is at the center of a new currency, which supersedes banking and coins and paper. That currency is minutes. It is easy to transport, and cheap to render. It lends itself to both to small transactions and complex trading. It is used by African farmers and by Japanese families that distribute the allowances to their teenage children in a form that they can monitor. That evolution has caught banks by surprise. Is the wallet and the credit card due for the endangered species list?
RichRelevance’s Darren Hitchcock blogs on Econsultancy.
The importance of fast load times in an online retail environment has been proven time and time again. Online, a shopper’s time literally equates to money.
Now, the research from our recent mobile study shows that it’s a shopper’s time on tablets that should be the focus on your website optimisation initiatives.
In the UK, 82% of mobile purchases are made on the iPad.
Tablets and speed: the stats
This past March, Compuware surveyed shoppers and found that almost 70% of tablet users expect a website to load in two seconds or less. If your mobile site isn’t fast enough, your customers will move along (and quickly) to the next click.
According to the study, a bad web experience will drive 46% of tablet users to competitive websites and 33% are less likely to purchase from that company. Comparatively, a Strangeloop survey reveals that shoppers using a PC are a bit more patient, with the majority allowing a full three seconds before making the jump. A shocking 80% of those users, once they’ve abandoned the site, will not return.
Performance is also key when digging deeper into our mobile study. Not only is mobile responsible for over 10% of all online business; but the study also revealed that browsers spend more time on iPads with page views higher than any other channel.
In the last week, RichRelevance introduced the US and UK versions of our Shopping Insights™ Q1 Mobile Study to the market with some fascinating findings around the rapid adoption and usage of mobile devices in e-commerce:
In the US, for instance, mobile purchases as a percentage of overall e-commerce have doubled in the last year from 1.9% in April 2011 to 4.6% in March 2012. Interestingly, the iPad is driving nearly all shopping, browsing and purchasing in this emerging channel and iPad shoppers here in the US, in March 2012, actually spent more than desktop users—five dollars more per order than the AOV of desktop users of $153.
By comparison, UK shoppers are blazing the trail for mobile shopping. UK mobile shopping is double that of their American counterparts, with mobile shopping representing just over nine percent of all e-commerce sales. The bulk of that mobile e-commerce revenue (more than 80%) is from purchases made on the iPad. Interestingly, the highest average order values, in March 2012, originated from the iPhone—$24 more than iPad shoppers and nearly $28 more than desktop shoppers.
These numbers are not just interesting, but they are telling a story about the ways in which consumers are embracing the freedom that mobile devices provide them in the ability to shop anytime, anywhere. Our Shopping Insights team believes that the difference between the mobile shoppers in the US and the UK has a lot to do with how we “live” in these two countries.
In the US, we are a car-and-couch culture; the majority of us drive to work, so using our mobile devices to and from the office or school is not an option. But when we do get a chance to shop, it’s often a relaxing event often taking place in front of the TV or even later at night in bed (iPad evening usage, from 8pm to 11pm, account for 26% of all iPad shopping sessions). This is also suggested by products iPad users frequently purchase in the US: fitness equipment, home furnishings and outdoor supplies. These are “aspirational” purchases, no doubt influenced by what is being seen on TV and the ability to relax with the device.
In the UK, it’s a different situation; while the iPad is squarely driving the majority of e-commerce sales, the fact that, in March, the iPhone is where the highest AOV occurs is very telling of the culture that is even more mobile than the US (a recent Times article revealed that there are more mobile phones in the UK than there are residents—62.5M, to be exact). Britons order everything online, from groceries to electronics and (according to our study) that includes large-ticket items purchased on a smartphone.
What does this mean for online retailers? It’s rather simple—or complex—depending on how you look at it. Simple from the standpoint that we must recognize our customers are engaging with us in the channel that best suits their needs at that moment. So as we have always said, put the customer at the center of your thinking and the business strategies become ultra-clear. The more complex initiative is the mandate to maintain different versions of your ecommerce site for each platform that a shopper wishes to use. Shopping on a smartphone is vastly different than shopping from a desktop. It’s incumbent on retailers to think about screen size, the form factor, ease of use—all aspects of the customer experience. That’s equally the case with the iPad, but there is also an opportunity to more directly engage with customers via catalog-style presentation of retail goods and services.
As we approach mass adoption, retailers must adapt their strategies to build specific interfaces to meet the needs of this emerging segment and the capabilities of the technology. You know, Steve Jobs did a remarkable job in building a mobile platform that consumers have embraced—the more retailers take advantage of this opportunity, the more relevant and lasting their brand will be to today’s shopper.