Retailers must gear up for mobile influenced cross-channel sales
Cross-channel sales, also known as web-influenced sales, are purchases that are touched by a digital channel but are not completed online. According to US data from Forrester, cross-channel sales are becoming increasingly important and are worth four times more in total than online sales alone. In fact, the analyst estimates that cross-channel sales will reach $1.8 trillion by 2018.
A big part of this new trend involves people using mobile devices at the pre-shop phase to gather more information about products and comparing different options before they buy. Often this is while they are actually in-store ahead of making an online purchase. That’s not to say that mobile sales conversions are not rising also. According to UK figures from IMRG, much of the £91bn shoppers spent online in 2013 was driven by mobile commerce, with over a quarter (27%) of internet sales coming directly from tablets and smartphones.
So consumers are increasingly more inclined to both use their mobile devices in-store ahead of making offline purchases, as well as using their tablets and smartphones to buy online.
Consequently retailers need a clear mobile strategy that is integrated into the customer journey if they are not to fall behind. This isn’t just about retailers having a mobile optimised web site. Retailers need to think about the wider customer experience. Questions to consider include:
- Do they provide free Wi-Fi in-store to make it easier to engage with customers on mobile devices?
- Do they know the type of information in-store customers tend to look for on their mobile devices - and is it quickly available on their sites?
- Are online assistants armed with up to date information?
- Can customers scan barcodes for more information?
- Do you provide money off coupons via mobile?
- Is it easy for customers to see view social media conversations about specific products?
Looking forward, here are four key areas to consider, when developing mobile strategies that cater for cross-channel sales:
- Ensure frequently needed information, such as store details, product stock levels etc, are easy to find using small screen devices
- Help customers get fast answers to their questions by extending technologies such as web self-service and proactive chat to mobile
- Use the location information available for mobile devices to help give customers a more personalised experience
- Ensure mobile is integrated with other channels, such as the web and telephone, so customers are not forced to repeat themselves or re-enter information
The indications are that mobile-driven cross-channel sales are going to be the new normal. Retailers must therefore ensure they incorporate it within their plans for developing the customer experience moving forward.