Over the next few weeks, Credera will be exploring the growth of mobile commerce and highlighting mobile retail tactics and best practices through a series of articles. If you missed part one on mobile customer engagement, you can find it here. This is part two of our Mobile Retail series, exploring the mobile shopping experience.
As we discussed in part one of this series, mobile is no longer the future for retailers, but the present. In many instances, a mobile retail presence is no longer a competitive advantage, it is simply standard. As customers increasingly expect an intuitive and engaging mobile experience, mobile design must be centered around the user from the beginning.
In this article, we explore four steps for designing and enhancing your mobile user experience. Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, these steps provide a helpful starting point for evaluating your user experience. To illustrate each step, we will use the hypothetical ABC Company. ABC is a multi-location boutique retailer carrying the latest trends in children’s fashion, and they are preparing to design a new mobile experience.
1. DEFINE THE DESIRED MOBILE EXPERIENCE
Designing your mobile experience starts and ends with your customers. Who are your customers? How old are they? Do they prefer to shop in-store or online? Do they own smartphones, and if so, do they use Android or iOS? Do they download apps or prefer mobile browsers? How do your top spenders prefer to interact with your brand? Questions like these can help you define your specific mobile use case and design an experience that helps users seamlessly navigate it. An additional consideration could be segmenting your customer base to identify top spenders and what their preferences are.
Before ABC begins the mobile experience design process, it must understand its target consumer. The majority of ABC’s clothing fits children between the ages of 3-10, but their primary customers are parents between the ages of 25-45, 96% of whom own a smartphone. This customer base is unlikely to download an app for occasional shopping, but they make decisions based on what they see in gift guides or on influencer Instagram accounts (see the first article in this series). These parents will come into the store, but they often want to shop online for their kids. Based on these factors, ABC’s use case calls for a mobile website rather than an app, with real-time inventory integration so parents can browse online and buy in the store.
Determine exactly what your customers want from a mobile experience and tailor every aspect to them.
2. DESIGN FOR YOUR USE CASE
Next, you need to pick which features are the most important. Start with a list of all the features you might want to include and prioritize them based on a set of criteria such as cost, complexity, and customer impact. If you do not know how to start developing and prioritizing features, consider using a design sprint to quickly ideate and create a prototype. The most important features to build will be those needed to complete the primary use cases and realize the desired experience. For instance, if the most important activity is buying clearance items, then sale notifications and shopping cart features will be critical. Any features not included in the primary use case should be added to a backlog for future iterations.
ABC knows its customers will split their time roughly in half between desktop and mobile, so they need to cater to both parties. ABC’s customers are concerned with the overall look and style of the clothing, so they create an image heavy experience by minimizing text and enlarging pictures. ABC emphasizes a painless browsing process, so they leave plenty of white space between products to facilitate scrolling and avoid accidental clicks. It is important for ABC’s customers to have an accurate picture of what they can order online or find in stores, so the website needs to be integrated with ABC’s current inventory management system. And although barcode scanning is not a core feature, ABC places it at the top of the backlog for future releases since it provides continuity between the in-store and mobile experiences.
Prioritize features based on cost versus impact, while also considering expectations.
3. DIFFERENTIATE THE MOBILE EXPERIENCE
Most retailers have a mobile website, so it is important to identify ways to differentiate your mobile experience from everyone else. Mobile-specific capabilities and tools provide effective means of differentiation. Are you taking advantage of phone-specific user interface capabilities such as gestures, shaking, or squeezing? Do you utilize location services or beacons? Is your mobile channel integrated with your in-store experience? Work to differentiate the service experience, not just the mobile experience. Think about which features cause users the most confusion or frustration and seek to minimize them. Prioritize the development of features providing a personalized customer experience, such as user profiles or a customer loyalty program, and work to differentiate the service experience as a whole.
ABC is just starting to develop its mobile platform, so it saves advanced gestures for the next iteration. By adding a store map with location services and inventory integration, customers can see where they are in the store and where to find a specific item. Because browsing can be frustrating on a mobile device, ABC ensures hitting the back button will place customers at their previous place on each page. And to differentiate the overall service experience, customers who order online for in-store pickup do not have to wait in line.
Differentiate the mobile experience by surprising customers with unique features and streamlining every aspect of the design to prevent any confusion or frustration.
4. EMPHASIZE STABILITY AND PERFORMANCE
Although customers are interested in advanced features in mobile websites, their basic expectation is for mobile websites to work and load quickly every time. Roughly half of consumers expect pages to load in two seconds or less, and 40% of users will abandon a page taking more than three seconds to load. A single mistake can be costly; more than 75% of customers are less likely to return to a site if they had previous issues with load speed.
ABC knows how important it is to build a robust, reliable website. By taking into account planned growth into new markets and the flexibility provided through cloud services, they develop a platform capable of meeting their needs, even during the peak traffic of next year’s Black Friday sale. Their flexible infrastructure minimizes cost while maintaining peak performance at all times.
Build a foundation of consistent mobile performance before adding flashy designs or cutting-edge features.
While these four steps and the representative examples only scratch the surface, we hope they enable you to design a more effective mobile experience that matches what your customers need and want. Delight your customers with a seamless user experience and watch site traffic and sales increase.
Although user experience is vital, it is only as good as your ability to close the sale. Check back in the next few weeks for the final article in this series on improving conversion rates.
If you would like to improve your digital user experience, we are happy to give you some ideas on ways you can start today. Feel free to reach out to Credera here or send me an email directly at email@example.com.