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How to Optimize Mobile to Drive Purchases

The majority of consumers still make their purchases in stores. That’s the reason that most retailers invest more in driving traffic to their brick-and-mortar locations rather than their websites or mobile sites. While more people are buying from mobile devices, the numbers still trail other channels, and most mobile purchases tend to be less expensive and impulsive. More than 62 percent of user time online is spent on mobile. But a big part of that time seems unable to be monetized; the gap between advertising investment and user behavior still represents a $7 billion opportunity according to Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends report.

That, however, doesn’t mean that mobile isn’t contributing to sales. If a third or more of a retailers online traffic is coming from the mobile channel, chances are, a lot of those shopper are actually buying. They’re probably just completing their purchase on a “traditional” e-commerce site or in a store.

The key is to track shoppers across devices. Retailers need to understand exactly how mobile factors into the purchase process, and then optimize their mobile presence drive more purchases.

Consumers today use a ton of devices. An American adult may have a work computer, a home computer, a mobile phone and a tablet. He might search for new speakers online at work, then go into a store at lunch and compare prices on his phone while he’s there. He might then do a little more research on product ratings and prices on his tablet while watching TV that night. Finally he’ll make the purchase on his laptop the next day.

But even though mobile may be in the middle, rather than a the end of the journey, it still matters. Retailers like Target and Macy’s know this, and have built profitable strategies around it. Understanding how customers use mobile devices to research purchases (even while they’re in the store ) is an important part of building your own successful strategy. As an example, here are some of the ways consumers use mobile devices as part of their shopping journey today:

  • 77% of people have searched for a product or service on their phone, and many go on to convert via a different path

  • 32% research on a smartphone then purchase on a computer

  • 37% research on a smartphone then make a purchase offline

Marketers need to understand these shoppers’ goals and identify the best strategies to message them for every use case. How can retailers message customers who are looking for coupons, while they’re considering a product on the shelf? How about customers who are comparison shopping, or looking for product reviews? What does that messaging look like if many of those shoppers are at the early stages of researching on a mobile devices, but are more likely to buy in-store?

Fortunately, retailers can track this new, convoluted customer journey. As long as point-of-sale and customer databases are linked, email addresses or other identifiers can be used to associate customers with internet cookies. When those records have been connected, the cookies can be linked to digital ad campaigns. That means that marketers can track customers from interactions online straight through to purchase. Customer purchase records and loyalty cards are the best way to obtain data to start tying those databases together.

Once those databases are linked, retail marketers have the opportunity to view the customer journey more holistically across all channels. Analyzing that journey is an important step. Marketers need to look carefully at how mobile impacts purchase decisions, because it does. It’s key to get the right attribution model in place to track and optimize the mobile channel.

Even if the majority of sales aren’t closing on mobile (yet), mobile is still an important channel in the consideration phase of the shopper journey. If marketers are able to ensure that consumers are getting the content they need to purchase from their store, the needle will move.

Photo from Creative Commons

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