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Scrolling banners key for retail mobile sites targeting back-to-school shoppers

Retailers must tailor their mobile Web sites specifically for the back-to-school shopper, using scrolling banners, coupons and mobile merchandising strategies to do so, according to industry experts.

Coupons and offers must be integrated into mobile Web sites as a way of differentiating from competitiors and therefore attracting back-to-school shoppers. Additionally, retailers should consider back-to-school-specific merchandising strategies during this time of the year.

“Retailers should create banners with special back-to-school offers on their mobile-optimized site’s homepage so it is the first thing consumers see when they go to the retailer’s mobile site,” said Dan Lowden, vice president of marketing at Digby, Austin.

“Offering special deals on back-to-school items will entice on-the-go shoppers to purchase products from the retailer’s mobile optimized Web site then and there, instead of looking around for better deals elsewhere,” he said.

“In addition, if the retailer has local weekly deals as part of their mobile-optimized Web site, they should make sure to highlight those during the back-to-school shopping season. Informing shoppers of time-sensitive local deals going on at retail store locations near them will drive increased traffic to the store.”

Back-to-school shoppers
The back-to-school shopper is ready to buy now, and looking for the right deal now, according to Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta.

Back-to-school shoppers are not looking to browse, since the majority already have their shopping list in-hand. They are looking to get the best value.

Because back-to-school shoppers are visiting retail sites with a specific purpose in mind, and they typically know exactly what types of items they intend to purchase, it is very important for retailers to make promotions easy to find when a shopper first visits the mobile site.

Next-generation HTML5 mobile features allow retailers to incorporate features like scrolling banners on the homepage of their mobile sites.

Scrolling banners are a dynamic way to make sure that back-to-school shoppers easily find relevant promotions upon first visit to the mobile site, according to Nick Taylor, CEO of Usablenet, New York.

Digby’s Mr. Lowden also suggests retailers consider adding QR codes to weekly circulars and print catalogs so shoppers can scan the QR code from the retailer’s branded rich app and be taken to a special back-to-school offer or see product details, customer ratings and reviews or even watch a video demonstration.

“Many of our retail partners change out their homepage categories based on different shopping seasons,” Mr. Lowden said. “Adding a back-to-school homepage category will help consumers shop quickly, easily and efficiently whether they are on the go, at home or in the retail store itself.”

Mobile coupons
Coupons and offers should be integrated into a mobile Web site looking to attract the back-to-school shopper. Ms. Troutman suggests retailers do this either through a homepage ad space, or a landing page that will allow an ad to open the specific coupon or offer when clicked through from an ad spot.

There is a higher ROI on ads that click through straight to the specific coupon or offer than ads that click to a homepage, and direct the user to find the coupon or offer through a series of clicks.

According to Usablenet’s Mr. Taylor, coupons and special offers should be integrated into the mobile site similar to the desktop Web experience – making sure they are easy to find, highlighted properly on the mobile homepage and consistent with the brand’s overall marketing strategy.

An example of integrating mobile into the larger marketing strategy could be incorporating QR codes to print ads, so consumers can easily link to the promotional page or product from their mobile phones.

“But most importantly, any pages that coupons and special offers link to – whether  from a mobile ad, email marketing, or QR code – should be optimized for mobile so shoppers are properly directed to a mobile-optimized page if they are accessing these promotions from their phone,” Mr. Taylor said.

Back-to-school mobile merchandising
The sites on mobile should reflect the most up-to-date back-to-school offers, front and center.

“When a customer is on their mobile device and clicks through from an email ad, SMS ad, or a QR code, they are looking for the relevant offer to be right there at the click through, they don’t want to find a site that has to be navigated – mobile shopping should be quick and easy, and very intuitive from ad to coupon to cart,” Siteminis’ Ms. Troutman said.

“Simple and easy will ensure users will click again,” she said. “Frustration at the first click will drive customers away.”

Usablenet’s Mr. Taylor agrees that in order to capitalize on potential purchases, retailers should make sure that back-to-school promotions are visible on the homepage of their mobile sites in a way that is easy for the shopper to find.

“They can do this by leveraging HTML5 mobile features like scrolling banners to highlight back-to-school promotions, or expanding navigation if they have a special back-to-school section,” Mr. Taylor said.

“They can also leverage location-based Find Near Me features for shoppers that prefer to purchase from a store,” he said. “Wish lists are also a great tool so customers can easily create their shopping lists for back-to-school items.”