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After years of small yet steady growth, mobile commerce has officially reached a tipping point. For the first time, shoppers went to their mobile device more than their laptops to browse and buy, according to Rob Garf, VP of Industry Strategy and Insights at Salesforce. With 48% of all online orders and 66% of all online traffic coming from smartphones this holiday season, Garf believes this momentum will only continue through 2019 and beyond. 


So, what does that mean for retailers’ future investments and priorities? Rob and I discussed in detail during the latest episode of the Holiday Insights Series. Looking at Salesforce’s latest holiday research, which included behavioral and shopping insights from 500 million global shoppers, Rob believes that mobile will be the centerpiece of retailers’ experiences moving forward. And based on this research, we found that there are three keys to success


1. Ease

Overall, we “saw a healthy holiday season,” Rob said, with “12% year-over-year growth this holiday season for digital, which was driven by mobile and artificial intelligence (AI). Combine both of those together and they’re really providing ease and access that consumers have never seen before.” 

Make no mistake: This doesn’t mean you can merely shrink down your ecommerce site and call it a day. Rob shared that best-in-class brands are now “designing mobile-first and moving outward” to ensure the experience is easy for shoppers as they tap and swipe. 


2. Convenience

We all can probably tell our fair share of poor mobile shopping experiences we’ve had. It’s taken the retail industry at large a long time to figure out how to design an experience that’s not just aesthetically beautiful, but also easy and convenient, too. “The majority of mobile shopping experiences were very clunky,” Rob said. “Just finding the product you wanted and checking out was difficult.” 

However, retailers stepped up their game during the 2018 holiday season by offering more convenient payment options such as PayPal, Apple Pay and more. In fact, 29% of mobile orders were completed using digital wallets. This one-click experience is a vast improvement and helps break down all of the friction points that are inherent in most mobile experiences today. And removing that friction is key to delighting customers all year round.
 

3. Context

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding AI, but more around the idea that robots are taking over the world. In wake of the hype, retailers are struggling to understand the practical use cases and benefits that AI can bring. During the holiday season, AI gave retailers “an anecdote for discount chicken,” Rob explained. Instead of slashing prices and giving out one-size-fits-all deals and coupons, AI enabled brands to provide automated, personalized offers that don’t require deep discounts and, ultimately, to hit into margin. When these personalized product recommendations and deals are published “above the fold” in a mobile experience, they can have a significant impact, increasing conversions and average order value. 


But the most exciting and valuable part of AI is its role in creating contextual customer experiences. Think of how you use your personal assistant of choice (e.g., Siri, Google Home, Alexa). When do you call for their help? Are you on the go? Are you multitasking? Are you in need of immediate assistance? AI allows you to get information in the context of your day — no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Ultimately, this means shopping can be embedded into every part of your day, whether you’re looking for a last-minute gift, want to check your order status, or get the hours of your nearby grocery store.

It’s certainly an exciting time for mobility in retail, and this only scratches the surfaces of all the great trends and best practices we discussed. Listen to the full episode to get all the details and learn how to ramp up your mobile experience in 2019.  


This article was originally published on Retail TouchPoints.