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Visuals are indispensable for converting millennial shoppers on mobile: report

The findings from the firm’s debut “Feet on the Street” report point to how visual information and image quality are an important part of the mobile shopping experience that have a direct impact on shoppers’ research and decisions to purchase. Interestingly, visuals are more important for female millennials, named by 72 percent as essential compared to 50 percent of males.

“The visual experience must be engaging, and delivery of visuals cannot take long,” said Corinna Krueger, head of corporate marketing at Instart Logic. “For instance, the survey found that 55 percent of millennials ‘could not live without’ compelling visuals; this outweighs all other factors.

“Among women, that percentage is considerably higher – 72 percent,” she said. “Men tilt significantly to reliance on product descriptions and reviews, but 50 percent of men put visuals first.”

Browser vs. apps
The company interviewed millennial shoppers at the Union Square shopping destination in San Francisco.

The findings point to the need for strong mobile customer experiences for retailers looking to convert millennials and highlights several key trends retailers should keep in mind when trying to reach these consumers this holiday season.

One key finding is that most millennials prefer browser-based shopping over applications, with 57 percent more inclined to make a mobile purchase within the browser versus 43 percent who favor an app.

The One Kings Lane mobile site

The majority of millennials vote for browser-based shopping, meaning the retailer’s mobile site,” Ms. Krueger said. “Our survey found that fifty-seven percent of millennials are more inclined to make a mobile purchase within the browser versus 43 percent who favor an app.

“Millennials, despite their collective buying power are price-conscious, they are diligent and swift researchers,” she said. “They search for options.

“To bring traffic in, retailers need to focus first on making the browser experience fast, gratifying and frictionless, because that is where their less committed customers are.”

Speed it up
Speed was also found to be important, with the failure of photos and other visual content to load quickly the most frequently cited reason for abandoning a mobile shopping site.

Approximately one in five millennial mobile shoppers would only wait two seconds for a mobile shopping site to load, and 68 percent would wait no longer than five seconds.

The survey also found that millennial mobile shoppers have two primary wireless shopping areas – home and work as well as on the go.

Home sweet home
Home and work, where Wi-Fi access is dependable, are the favored areas, with two-thirds of millennials preferring to shop from their mobile devices while at home. A small fraction also shops while at work locations.

These findings suggest that retailers need not be overly concerned about showrooming with these consumers.

Among female millennial shoppers, 71 percent are usually at home or work when they shop on a mobile device.

In contrast, 41 percent of millennial men favor mobile shopping while in transit, in a store or waiting on a line compared to just 23 percent of men. On-the-go mobile shopping faces challenges such as unreliable 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi networks.

Optimizing experiences
Another finding is that 38 percent of millennial men said they could not live without product descriptions and reviews compared to just 17percent of women.

For retailers looking to reach millennial shoppers this holiday season, Instart Logic recommends considering shifting investment from app development to optimize faster page loads on mobile sites. Retailers also need to be sure they deliver fast performance along with compelling visuals for shoppers at home, work and on-the-go.

It is not too late to get started on enhancing a content delivery network. Last November, One Kings Lane moved its Web traffic to Instart Logic and saw immediate reductions in page load times and better consistency across all devices.

“Retailers should think about the browser experience now, and aggressively use the next six weeks to test, pilot, and switch to new technology that can ensure faster performance to mobile devices over all types of wireless connections,” Ms. Krueger said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York