Report • 02.06.2014

Bright prospects for mobile shoppers

Retailers need to optimize web contents for any mobile device

The latter actually love to search addresses, phone numbers and store hours of...
The latter actually love to search addresses, phone numbers and store hours of retailers.
Source: ECC Köln

More and more customers shop with their mobile phones. To optimally prepare for smartphone and tablet users, retailers do not just need a web-optimized online store. With the help of apps, search engine optimization and emails with responsive web design retailers can also literally get shoppers on the same page, their webpage.

"It should be a top priority for online retailers to 'mobilize' their web store. By now, 30 million Germans own a smartphone – and like to shop with it. But if they don’t find a mobile optimized website there, smartphone users quickly move on to the web store of a competitor, who is already mobile optimized." Florian Treiß doesn’t mince words when he describes one of the biggest current drawbacks of online retail.

Thanks to an analysis by the performance marketing agency eprofessional in Hamburg, the founder of the specialized publishing house Treiß Media knows that as recently as in the past year 63 of the 100 largest online stores in Germany did not have a mobile optimized website. He cautions: "This actually means that almost two-thirds of online retailers were not able to offer their customers and potential customers an optimal user experience on the smartphone, which may result in significant conversion loss." High time for online retailers to upgrade.

More sales with responsive web design

Websites and emails that are being sent out for marketing purposes for instance can look very different depending on the end device that’s being used. Obviously, smartphones display pages differently than desktop PCs due to their size. Responsive web design can bridge the gap in this case by optimally adjusting the pages to the display of the respective device. The size of the device itself, screen resolution, orientation – portrait or landscape format – as well as input options such as keypad, touch and voice are changeable parameters.

It is proven that responsive websites simplify and increase sales. According to a study by Yesmail Interactive, considerably more customers click on the adapted mails and then also purchase items. This pertains even more to smartphone users than tablet users, since tablets already offer a larger display. However, so far 31 percent of marketers don’t use responsive emails, while 24 percent only use it for half of their mails. All this even though more than half of all emails are opened via mobile devices at this point. This is why Michael Fisher, President of Yes Lifecycle Marketing recommends using responsive design consistently for all your mailings.

O Retailer, where art thou?

Aside from the technical aspect, there are also measures that are fairly easy to implement and win over more shoppers. The latter actually love to search addresses, phone numbers and store hours of retailers using smartphones and do so more and more often. This is why promising positions on the Web are of course the company website itself, search engines like Google+ Local and directories like the Yellow Pages. Add maps, travel times and routes and you already did a lot to win over customers.

According to the "Local Search Study 2013", mobile searches saw an increase of 86 percent since 2010 – a number that should give retailers pause to ensure their company can be found easily. "Unfortunately, many owner-operated stores and service providers are still not set up in the year 2014 to where you can actually find them with a corresponding search. Some stores today still don’t have a proper website, but can at best be found through third party providers," explains Florian Treiß.

Search engine optimization (SEO) makes the online presence of retailers even more effective. Treiß explains its benefit: "SEO is especially helpful for gaining new customers: it primarily addresses Internet users, who enter a specific term on Google, for instance a product name. The retailer, who has his website optimized to where he is listed on top on Google wins and the entry says something like dear consumer, I have the product you are looking for and at a great price."

App-solutely helpful

Focused on local services, apps can also be used for marketing purposes. "The smartphone can be the link between online and offline business for brick-and-mortar retailers –  keyword location-based services. Apps such as kaufDA or Gettings help brick-and-mortar retailers to send location-based offers to consumers‘ smartphones, such as matching flyers or coupons of stores nearby for instance,” says Treiß.

He adds: "These apps increasingly help retailers to get more customers into their stores – and with coupon redemption, there are also some measurable sales that were triggered through smartphone apps. What’s more, more and more brick-and-mortar retailers like Netto, Edeka or HIT offer their own apps. In these cases, their own couponing and payment solutions are integrated." In addition, the Mobile Wallet is also an exciting subject for brick-and-mortar retail, which is meant to replace your actual leather wallet by offering one-stop payment, loyalty, couponing and marketing solutions.

"Apps can help to satisfy my everyday needs. Regardless of whether that’s an app by an online retailer for instance, who sends me a message when a package leaves the warehouse or an app by a brick-and-mortar retailer that helps me save money by showing me new flyers and offers," Treiß summarizes.

There are many different opinions on what makes a good app. Among the basic rules are for instance good descriptions of the app itself, an attractive logo and so on. However, one thing is crucial for all measures that are meant to attract mobile shoppers: only those retailers, who present themselves with the right format and in the right places on the Web, can also be found by customers there and subsequently generate sales.

Natascha Mörs, iXtenso.com

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