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Mobile key channel to provide incremental retail sales

Please click here to access a recording of the webinar

Retailers who are not investing in mobile are losing a big opportunity, because not only are their competitors and customers already using smartphones, but studies have shown that multichannel shoppers spend three times as much as single channel ones.

That was one of the takeaways from “Benchmarking 125 Mcommerce Sites and Apps across 13 Retail Categories,” a Mobile Commerce Daily webinar sponsored by TRUSTe. FitForCommerce shopped 125 mobile commerce sites across 13 categories in October and again in April to see what the mobile retail best practices are and the company learned that some retailers are already in mobile without realizing it.

“We have clients who are surprised that 5 to 10 percent of their traffic is coming from mobile even without a mobile- optimized Web site,” said Bernardine Wu, CEO of FitForCommerce, Short Hills, NJ.  “So, whether you want to or not, you are already doing mobile.”

Other speakers during the webinar included Janet Jaiswal, product manager and senior director of San Francisco-based TRUSTe, and Eric Newman, vice president of products at Digby, Austin, TX.

Ratings a must have
Ms. Wu also noted that best practices have evolved as retailers begin to figure out how consumers shop via mobile.

“In the beginning, the mobile sites were varied, with a lot of people doing different things,” Ms. Wu said. “Now we are figuring out how she and he shopped.”

For example, the fall study showed that less than 50 percent of mobile sites had ratings and reviews features. In the April study, 100 percent of books and media retailers offered this service, 66 percent of office supply stores and 50 percent of electronics retailers.

“This is a stock feature on mobile sites,” Ms. Wu said. “Even if you can do it simply with stars or simple comments, it’s worth doing.”

Another must-have for mobile retail sites is a store locator, with 90 percent of retailers with a physical store offering this service.

Retailers are venturing into mobile even without knowing the return-on-investment for it, with almost 50 percent of retailers not having measured any ROI on their mobile efforts.

“This shows that mobile is becoming a must-have as retailers are making this investment ahead of seeing the ROI,” Ms. Wu said.

Some retailers still have not ventured into mobile because they feel the investment is too much, while 18 percent are not doing so because mobile is incompatible with their ecommerce system.

“Every third-party platform is working on a mobile module so that number will go down,” Ms. Wu said.

Only 16 percent of the sites benchmarked by FitForCommerce are not transactional. This does not mean, however, that retailers have to enable transactions in the mobile space.

“There are many examples of non-transactional opportunities in mobile even if it is a half-step toward commerce,” Ms. Wu said.

The executive pointed to CVS’ mobile Web site as an example as it lets consumers refill a prescription, make a clinic appointment, check the sales or find a store.

Mobile moments
Building to “mobile moments” is another important benchmark and shows why limited-time only auction sites, which are time-sensitive, have one of the highest mobile site penetrations at 89 percent. The ability to easily and quickly shop by phone is critical because inventory is slim and the sites have to be accessible anywhere, any time.

“Essentially, you have to be there when they are looking for you and even more so in the mobile space,” Ms. Wu said.

Scanning capabilities are important for retailers who sell multiple brands.

Walgreens, for example, allows customers to refill a prescription by scanning a bar code.

Rich media is still scarce, with only 5 percent of benchmarked retailers offering it. With rich media, it is important to balance load time how useful the rich media content is going to be.

Site search varies greatly on retail mobile sites, with searches producing different results across many benchmarked retailers.

“Many retailers focus on site search on their ecommerce sites but it is just as important, if not more important, on a mobile site because of the limited amount of time mobile shoppers have,” Ms. Wu said.

She recommends indexing mobile search frequently and being sure to put in the most frequently used terms.

Other mobile services may be a challenge for retailers because their integration with other systems can be difficult. This includes being able to show which stores have an item in stock and enabling shoppers to purchase via a phone and pick up in store.

However, if retailers can swing the integration, it can be worth it to improve the customer experience, per Ms. Wu.

Other capabilities to keep in mind include providing the ability to share an item on a social networking site, preorder capabilities, instant confirmation, stored wallets, accurate freight estimation, apps, an accurate feedback mechanism and location-based services.

It is important that retailers invest in mobile because not only are their competitors and customers already using mobile, but mobile is a new channel that can provide incremental sales, per Ms. Wu.

“I think mobile is an incremental sale, but there is some channel shift as well,” she said.

“But it’s important to keep in mind that multichannel shoppers spend three times as much as a single channel shopper.”

Please click here to access a recording of the webinar