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Why retailers should pay closer attention to mobile-only shoppers

While mobile-only shoppers make up only a small percentage of consumers, retailers would still be wise to understand their needs because not only are they growing but they can provide important insight into how multichannel shoppers’ needs are evolving.

Social shopping aggregators such as Wanelo, Fancy and Houzz all boast a large mobile-only customer base, meaning customers who learned about the brand through a smartphone or tablet, live the brand on mobile and do not really shop on desktop. Other retailers can follow their example by adding more social aspects and inspirational content to their app experiences and capturing new customers they would not have otherwise.

“[Mobile-only] is definitely a recognizable and existing segment for all retailers,” said Christopher Mason, co-founder and CEO of Branding Brand. “It definitely skews young.

“It is increasingly becoming the case that this type of shopping behavior is also app-oriented versus the mobile Web,” he said. “Those that are seeing the lion’s share of that type of customer are the shopping aggregators such as Wanelo.

“You are not going to lose your shoppers and you are also going to find new people that you would have never connected with before by going with a bigger mobile focus and trying to understand the mobile-only customer for your brand.”

Holiday shopping
The mobile-only shopper skews towards younger consumers, per Mr. Mason.

This segment also has a higher percentage of male consumers, with a lot of men preferring to shop on mobile more than any other channel.

However, as social media increasingly skews towards commerce, women are embracing the value they cannot find in other channels, such as convenience and the ability to share.

The trend toward social commerce is expected to big for the upcoming holiday season and since this is a heavy shopping period, more consumers could discover that they can get all that they need from a shopping perspective via mobile.

“We are going to find the exploration side of shopping to increasingly be app-based and mobile,” Mr. Mason said. “It is going to have a big impact on the upcoming holiday season as we see social commerce and social aggregators such as Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter begin to provide buy buttons.

“So we see those two segments of social commerce aggregators like Wanelo and also the fact that you can now buy product through Twitter and through Facebook as becoming quite rapidly coming out of this holiday season a preference consumer behavior because it is inline with what they do on their phone,” he said.

Social commerce
Social commerce will give a boost to mobile-only shopping because the process happens more fluidly within a stream of content on a mobile device.

As a result, social commerce is able to take advantage of how consumers are currently using their mobile devices, which is to share content they like.

“Now when you find something cool, you can buy it and not deal with the friction of so many touch points to finally make a purchase,” Mr. Mason said.

By meeting the needs of mobile-only shoppers, retailers can also be ahead of the curve as their existing customer base becomes increasingly mobile-savvy.

“For retailers in the same sector, if you are the first to have an app, it not only lets you go to market faster to get those consumers that are going to be mobile-only first but it also is going to allow them to be in front of a trend that their existing customers are going to slide over to,” Mr. Mason said.

In-store value
To address the needs of the mobile-only shoppers, retailers should keep in mind that these consumers tend to be app-based and active social users.

Retailers should also make sure they are connected socially to any aggregators that are providing in-store value, such as Retailmenot.

This means connecting promotions in apps that are used in-store by shoppers looking to find offers and providing coupon codes.

“Engaging the mobile-only shopper is no easy task – diversity of devices, variety of screen sizes, landscape versus portrait layout, and more,” said Jay Henderson, strategy director at IBM ExperienceOne. “Given this complexity, retailers must make the online experience streamlined and easy to navigate on mobile devices.

“Customer experience monitoring can help retailers identify customer struggle that can occur with errors mobile rendering,” he said. “The reality of online shopping is customer attention spans are dwindling to new lows – regardless of device.

“Average time on site sank to a new low of 7:09 in September 2013, almost a minute less than two years earlier. To keep the customer engaged, retailers need to deliver a personalized and rewarding shopping experience.”

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