What lessons for 2013 can retailers learn from the rise in mobile sales this Christmas?

It's of no surprise, following recent trends in the rise of mobile, that e-commerce levels are rising through smartphone use. Matt Champion, media services director at mobile marketing agency Fetch offers his views on how this growth in mobile sales during the Christmas buying period can be used as a launching pad for many retailers in 2013.

According to Retail Customer Experience US 64% of tablet owners and 53% of smartphone users plan to use their devices to research and purchase gifts. Whether ordering, browsing, or purchasing, more and more of us will be comfortable using our mobiles to help us navigate the festive season. But how will the boom in mobile commerce during the Festive season help online retailers moving forward into the new year?

Christmas, as we know, distorts and heightens everything – our spending, TV consumption, interaction with family, travelling, drinking, and yes, even how we use our mobile devices. The challenge for retailers is to harness the seasonal consumer uplift in mobile usage and convert it into long term behaviour change in the New Year.

My recent mobile retail experiences can be summed up by the following three examples - I bought some spoons on a train platform, a car in a pub and I had a sofa bed-induced anxiety attack in IKEA. Probably not dissimilar to others who use mobile for purchasing – sporadic, random buying, with no discernible pattern, with some experiences more straightforward than others.

Killing time, waiting for a train, I went to Amazon mobile – I chanced across the cutlery and bought on impulse. A slightly more costly purchase happened in the pub. I did need a new car, and found exactly what I wanted on eBay – all in the time it took me to have just two pints -from browsing to purchase. I found the perfect sofa bed on IKEA’s website through my smartphone in the same week and naively went off to purchase in store. Unfortunately, IKEA’s in-store experience is the same as it was 20 years ago – a huge circuit with no choice but to follow its winding aisles so that you see every product!

IKEA is a good example of how disparate some retailers’ shopping channels are. It should go without saying that all channels should form a virtuous circle – mobile, instore, online and even social media should be broadly providing the same service – an easy, enjoyable, efficient way to purchase.

Currently, mobile is an embellishment to the shopping experience, rather than a replacement. It enables aspects of the shopping process to be completed with comparative ease, especially compared with the traditional methods of pacing the streets at Christmas.

What retailers should consider now is how they can optimise Christmas mobile usage, so it takes those consumers with them into 2013. My top tips for those retailers still struggling with mobile are:

Make sure your brand has a website optimised for mobile.

The IAB found that when advertisers had a mobile-specific site - average dwell time was two minutes longer than the average for advertisers without a mobile web presence. Furthermore, consumers who visit an advertiser site that is mobile-optimised looked at on average 19 pages per person - 33% more than if the site was not optimised.

Google's own research has found that while Christmas-related searches start ramping up in November, half of that traffic switches to mobile devices in the days leading up to Christmas.

If you're a physical store then, as a minimum, you need location and opening hours and directions.

Offer click (tap) and collect

If you’re a virtual store make sure you’re very clear about product descriptions and utilise social proof – ie user reviews wherever possible.

Make sure there are no hidden costs - a visible ‘basket’ throughout the experience is a must.

Make the delivery experience is as risk-free as possible.

Make the experience the same across retail, online and mobile

Make it easy with one-click-buy options

As we head into the holiday season we’ll see some retailers reaping the benefits of their seamless mobile strategies. For those that don’t have a clear vision for mobile, and don’t get the basics right, then it’s going to be a very unhappy New Year.

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