Global Mobile Shopping Trends and Best Practices to Win the Digital Shelf
Global Retail Analyst
Senior Vice President, Customer Success
Shoppers around the globe are turning to their mobile devices to purchase and research products. To succeed, you now need to understand how to best position your brands on the mobile websites and apps of pure-play and multi-channel retailers. In addition you will need to be prepared for changes coming to the mobile shopping experience brought on by technological advances and innovations from leading markets. Listen to Euromonitor International’s Global Retail Analyst, Tim Barrett, along with Clavis Insight’s Senior Vice President of Customer Success, Danny Silverman, to get the mobile shopping trends and best practices you need to address this challenge.
Listen to this on-demand webinar and learn:
- Current and projected growth in mobile channel sales in key global markets
- The latest mobile trends transforming ecommerce globally
- Content, search and availability differences from mobile app to desktop
Tim Barrett is a Global Retail Analyst at Euromonitor International who previously covered a number of markets for the US. Tim’s professional interests include the evolving grocery landscape and online marketplace growth. Follow Tim: LinkedIn | Twitter
Danny Silverman is Senior Vice President of Customer Strategy for Clavis Insight. In his role, Danny helps brands enhance equity and drive sales at online retailers with data driven insights and experience informed action.
Follow Danny: LinkedIn | Twitter
Today what I’ll be doing for the first half of the webinar is going into the background of e-commerce, how mobile fits into that background and how much growth it’s driving, and just go over some key trends and functionalities and things of that nature that are pushing mobile forward and e-commerce forward — both today and in the future. As a note: throughout the presentation I will be covering both global and domestic or U.S.-based figures. I’ll make sure to call it clearly which I’m talking about per slide as I transition between the two.
So, for our first slide here we have actually both. We’ve got the global outline of e-commerce sales, in addition to how the U.S. is a part of that. You’ll see, based on the lines and the CAGRs, the growth rates, that the U.S. is doing fairly well and will in the future. However that it’s actually a little behind the global growth rate. That means that a lot of countries have some catching up to do. However, some countries are also doing better than us in things we can learn from them as well.
So if we take a look at globally, still, the question I’m often asked is, okay well what’s selling? And here are a handful of the top categories. We have apparel and footwear, consumer appliances, media products, and consumer electronics. Now if you ever bought anything online it’s probably been some sort of media product or consumer electronic. And those are still definitely very important portions of online product selection. However, they are waning in importance. They’re becoming more mature. People don’t buy them necessarily as much, but more so the fact is that people are buying more things online. Apparel and footwear is the latest and fastest rising product category. But consumer appliances are also becoming much more used to being bought online as people get used to buying things online and buying more things beyond media products and consumer electronics.
So we’re going to take just a closer look at a couple of categories for some insight in there — particularly based on people that are listening. We have consumer electronics is the first category close-up. And this is for the U.S. alone. Now it’s still got a lot of sales: $37.8 billion in 2015 alone. But as we’ve noted that the share is changing and it actually happens to be falling as a share of internet sales. The reason for this is largely maturity. People are used to buying consumer electronics online and have been for years. And as such the product cycles for these products have kind of topped out. There hasn’t been that much innovation at least in terms of new product categories. And as always in consumer electronics, and sometimes in e-commerce, price erosion has made it a bit harder to get growth out of consumer electronics online.
And then I know we have a fair amount of food and drink suppliers here listening today. So we have growth for food and drink in the U.S. and the share as well. Now I know our people have talked a lot about food and drink being one of the next big things in online. And there’s definitely a lot of buzz around that. But the share change is actually been fairly flat, even slightly negative over the past ten years. That’s not to say it hasn’t been growing. We’ve got over $5 billion more in sales comparing 2015 to 2005. So it’s definitely still growing but as far as share of internet sales is concerned: could be better. Things that are limiting its growth in terms of share are the fact that it’s still pretty expensive, so online food and drink is not necessarily catered to all consumer segments. It’s not particularly widespread. Amazon Prime Fresh is available only in a few cities. Only certain cities have groceries that have experimented with buy online/pickup in store. We’re definitely still very early innings for this sort of thing. And then also in terms of just consumer uptake, there are the issues of buying fresh. Americans are very picky. They like to handle their own fruits and vegetables. Avocados are notoriously difficult to pick. So trusting other people to do that: not quite there quite yet.
So taking a step back again to the global picture. We’re going to incorporate m-commerce now into our discussion of e-commerce — that is, mobile commerce. Here we have a 10-year time span with 5-year intervals showing just the percentages coming from in store, e-commerce and m-commerce; e-commerce and m-commerce combined are still relatively small but definitely growing. And if we take slices of this same type of thing for 2020, but by region, we’ll see that Asia-Pacific and North America are both actually going to have a larger portion of their sales coming from e-commerce and m-commerce. Asia-Pacific leading the way, particularly when it comes to m-commerce.
So let’s take a step forward again and have a look at what’s going on in the U.S. We’ll see here where the percentage of households that already possess a smartphone nearing 80%, which means that they’re pretty much here. We all know this. Not necessarily anything that is surprising to anybody, but here’s some data to prove that we’re pretty much past the hockey stick — and smartphones are everywhere.
So how does that smartphone possession turn into or play into m-commerce? And how does the m-commerce play into e-commerce as part of that? Here we’ve got U.S. m-commerce and e-commerce sales with the compound annual growth rates (CAGR) on the right. We’ll see that m-commerce and e-commerce are growing in a similar sort of curve; however, m-commerce is actually growing much faster that e-commerce — indicating that it is driving some of the growth within the total category.
And for anybody that’s curious of how that translates into the share of total e-commerce growth, we can see that here. Already we’re at about 30% of all internet sales coming from mobile. And by 2020 we’ll almost be at 45%. So that’s going to be quite the leap going on in the future, indicating that, yes, mobile is the significant growth driver.
And here we’ll take a step back to some global countries. We have a chart here of just what percentage of growth is coming from mobile by the top countries for internet growth in the next four years. We see the countries on the left-most column there. Then if you take a look at the next column to the right, for internet growth, this is the number in U.S. millions of absolute growth that will be coming in the next four years. In the column to the right of that you have the same figure but for mobile. And in the right-most column we just have the percentage of total internet growth that will be coming from mobile-based devices. It’s basically just the third column divided by the second column. You’ll see that these numbers are very high. For the U.S. that’s 63%, so in the next four years 63% of all internet retailing growth will be coming from mobile-based devices. In the U.K. this is almost even 100%. And in some countries that didn’t quite make the cut, this number is actually over 100%, which indicates that mobile growth is actually slightly cannibalizing internet retailing growth.
So now we’ve taken a look at the numbers and the sizes of growth rates and things of that nature. We’re going to take a look into the habits that are going on and how businesses are rushing to meet those habits — and that could also help shape them. So here we’ve got some survey data on how high is mobile usage and how it translates into sales. Here we’ve got some survey from 2013 about 15- to 29-year-olds, your ever important millennials and their daily smartphone usage. We’ll see that less than 5% never use it daily. And pretty much everybody else is at least using it daily: 0-3 hours is almost 50%, with 3-6 hours being 30%, and over 10% using it over 8 hours a day. So this is probably not news to anybody for everybody seeing everybody looking at their phones all day. And I’m sure it’s only gotten worse since then — or better, depending on your opinion and your viewpoint. But it’s here to stay and people are using it quite frequently. And that translates into increased mobile sales, which you’ll see in the chart below. We’re already from 15%-25% globally, looking over the past 3 years or so, of people buying at least once weekly on their phones.
So how does this translate into businesses? What are people doing? What are the options out there for mobile phone usage? Well a really big important one that I want to talk about first is mobile-first marketplaces. A marketplace, for anybody that’s unfamiliar with the term, is a platform, typically run by a tech company, which allows third-party merchants to use that platform to basically set up shop and sell things as the merchant of record on that platform. The tech company or host of that platform then gets a percentage of the sales in exchange for hosting that web site and also the shop. Amazon is of course the biggest in the U.S. Alibaba’s Tmall is huge as well. And e-Bay was one of the first to do this at all.
What I want to talk about is mobile-first marketplaces. These are relatively new, very popular amongst younger people, and are definitely going to changing the way people shop on their mobile phones. They are mobile-first because many of them are strictly on mobile phones. And if they do have an online website, they started [in] mobile first and that’s kind of driven their evolution. There are three things that mobile-first marketplaces do pretty well. They’re easy to browse. They have some sort of social component baked in, even if that’s just simplified sharing. And they make purchasing easy not only through browsing but through the end steps because there’s not a lot of space on mobile screens.
Now there’s three types of mobile-first marketplaces that I want to go over. The first is B2C, or business to consumer. These are pretty straightforward. Wanelo is a pretty good example of one in the U.S. Shopo is another, based in India. Next up we have cross-border. These are typically B2C as well but I want to call them out separately because they are international in nature and are responsible for hooking up shoppers and retailers in different countries. Wish, which I believe may be the largest mobile-first marketplace in the U.S., is a cross-border marketplace that has Chinese manufacturers and suppliers selling directly to U.S. consumers via their mobile phone. And it has 60-100 million downloads right now. So very significant. Buyma is a similar sort of thing but it’s fashion based and a cross-border in Asia only. And then finally we have C2C, or consumer to consumer, marketplaces. These are the analogs to Craigslist, if you will. Anybody that’s ever used Craigslist anytime recently, you probably think, this is pretty reminiscent of an older internet shopping experience — that’s because it is. A lot of room to improve in this market. And we are seeing people do that right now. OfferUp, which is a U.S.-based version, actually has claimed to have $14 billion in GNV as of last year, so that’s very significant. And Mercari is the Japanese version, which was actually their first unicorn and has over 30 million downloads right now.
So I’ve talked a lot about companies are going mobile first. But if you’re a company that already has a presence, because you’ve been around longer online, that doesn’t mean that mobile first means mobile only. You need to be thinking about mobile more holistically and how it fits in a more supplementary way to people’s lives. People are using their phones all the time, but that also means that there’s a lot of garbage out there. They need to be able to sift through it to find what you want them to find. And you need to give them reasons to do so. So we have a really good example, Kohl’s in the U.S. here, which actually supplements the in-store experience. You’ll see it called out at the very bottom there, “In-Store Tools,” which is actually a section of their mobile app. It does things like price checking now, but I know that they’re working on something, functionality which would actually allow you to call an in-store associate to your present location in the store to help you out physically. So that’s kind of using your mobile phone as a tool to help you do things in real life. On the right here we have an example of companies that actually went mobile-only and saw some pretty negative results because of it. Flipkart is an India-based vertical online retailer similar to Amazon. And Myntra is a sister site that focuses just on apparel. They both went app-only some time last year for a little while. They had a website and they shut it down to try to get people to use their app and so that they could just focus on their app. And it turns out that that was a poor move. They saw sales drop 10% almost immediately. And that’s because not everybody only wants to use their mobile phone. Sometimes the apps are too large or they use too much data or they’re too slow or some people just still like shopping on desktop web sites. So you need to make sure that the mobile you’re using is part of a larger solution to how you want people to shop.
And the next up we have a couple slides on just the functionality of mobile and what people are doing today and what they’ll be doing in the future. So payment is a big thing that people talk about a lot. Starbucks is the star of the show here: 24% of their transactions are already mobile. So it’s clear that they are doing something right in hooking it up with their rewards. Walmart also has some mobile pay and, while not many people use it, 80% of the people who do use it are repeat users — which indicates that if you get people to use your mobile pay, their probably diehards and very loyal. So that should be kept in mind as well. Social is a big thing. WeChat is undoubtedly the leader in China because also they’re one of the only stores not only with a large user base, but also with the ability to sell directly through the app. H&M, Chanel, SmartCart, Uniqlo are all on WeChat right now with stores. And then next we have geo-fencing abilities, which some social apps are using now. Those that are unfamiliar with the term: geo-fencing is the ability to basically tag a physical store with an online location so that it’s pulled up when people are using the social network in the vicinity of said store. Snapchat actually does that now. So if you’re interested in that method of marketing, I’d look into Snapchat because they don’t really talk about it that much. And I know Sephora is a good example of a company that’s doing it right now.
Okay and then our last two are search and seamless. Search has been around forever in online usage and also in mobile usage. And the text search is pretty sophisticated these days. But now we’re seeing some real moves forward on both voice search and visual search — done both by Kohl’s and BestBuy. I’m a big believer in voice search particularly because I think it’s a way to get older people, people who don’t like looking at screens, and people who don’t like using touch screens into the mobile space more easily.
And next up then we have seamlessness. This is more from a tech standpoint of making apps and your phones work well with both other apps and also the real world. APIs are the ability to write programs which other people who write programs and apps can use. Walgreens has two APIs actually: one which lets other apps and developers link to their store locations, and one that separately lets them link to their store products and promotions. So they just have a lot of different options there for getting into other apps and deep linking and the ability to actually link to other things within apps, which is not easy right now but we’re definitely developing. And then finally we have world blending, also known as alternate reality. In some cases you can consider virtual reality a part of this. Pokemon GO, the latest craze, proving the concept of alternate reality being a significant factor particularly for young people.
Okay so that’s almost it for me. But if you’re curious as to what the key takeaways of those last few slides were, they are that mobile usage is ubiquitous but shopping habits aren’t yet. So while everybody is using their mobile phones, we’re not quite sure how to yet — at least as far as shopping is concerned. So that means that now is the time to get in to that game. Mobile is also accelerating e-commerce and possibly cannibalizing it, which means that it is probably more important than a sophisticated e-commerce platform. But that doesn’t mean that the e-commerce platform is useless, as we saw. And then also, it needs to make life easier. You need to give people a reason to use your mobile and your e-commerce space solutions. And this doesn’t necessarily have to be for payment or final purchase but could be also pre- or post-purchase.
And with that I will hand it off to Danny for best practices within the digital shelf and the mobile space.
Great, Tim, thank you very much. And good morning and good afternoon to everyone. Thank you for joining. We heard some fantastic statistics and data and insight from Tim: knowing and perceiving that’s coming from mobile and will be coming from mobile and knowing how important e-commerce in general is in driving both online and offline. It’s a question we get more and more often from our customers and other people we’re talking to in the industry: if I’m the person who is managing the e-commerce business for my company, what do I need to know about the mobile shelf? How is it different from managing the desktop shelf? Is there anything I need to know to do differently to be ready for this transition? We actually do quite a bit of research in this area. Our technology is capable of harvesting data from desktop, mobile web and also from mobile apps and tablet apps. And that provides us the insight and data to be able to combine and compare how products show up on retailers’ sites and how they compare across devices.
First of all, the fundamentals remain the same. For those who I’ve spoken with in the past or have seen us present, you’ll be familiar with our fundamentals. First and foremost: get and stay in stock. I’ll come back to this at the end in the recap. But at the end of the day it’s the first and most important fundamental. Be discoverable. Make sure that you’re optimizing for search. We’re going to talk about search in just a moment and how it differs from mobile. Ensuring accurate fundamentals. And yes, the titles, products and images do carry over from desktop into mobile app. We’re going to talk a little about the differences there. Getting assortment right, of course, continues to be critically important because for the most part the assortment on desktop is the same as mobile. And finally, you want your copy and content to be e-commerce specific and e-commerce ready. And that’s actually where we’re probably going to spend a little bit more time today is talking about the differences, particularly around copy and content and what needs to be done and what can be done to optimize for mobile at the same time that you’re optimizing for all other platforms.
So here’s the key differences. I’ll jump to the punch line first and then we’ll go into some details. Obviously the images are smaller. That’s certainly not a new or difficult to understand insight. But when you consider that for the most part we are still using pack shots that are intended to be viewed at shelf, they are smaller on your desktop screen — they’re now smaller than your actual thumbnail when you’re looking at it in a mobile app. And we’ll talk about that in just a moment.
Titles get shortened. It’s not the text itself but the size of the screen requires retailers to sometimes truncate or shorten the amount of the title you can see. There are content fields that may also have a different interaction, the way that you look and read the content field; some field can even be missing across platforms. And we’ll talk a little about that. Search results may vary. We’re going to talk a little about the drivers there and what can make the difference in how it shows up in search. And finally there can be availability issues, or at least the appearance of availability differences, which we’ll talk to as well.
First of all, just looking at some eye tracking data. On average visitors will make their search decision in 7 seconds. They’ll do their search, look at the visual search results, and take about 7 seconds to make a decision on which product they’re going to click on. We know that shoppers search primarily by scanning images. On average the image itself gets 70% of the attention and the time looking at the screen versus the text and title. On mobile however, it’s even greater. As much as 98% of online shoppers are making their decision of what to click on or add to basket by looking at the hero image only. These are some pretty staggering statistics and really call out the importance of getting that product image right. If you’re interested in diving deeper into this topic, I — just a quick side commercial here — will be speaking at Path to Purchase Expo (P2PX) on September 20 with our eye tracking partner Stickee and some of the specific data and insight that we found by exploring what makes for great product images.
Coming back here for just a moment. And I just want to extend our gratitude to Unilever e-commerce, who have been really leading the way here and provided some of the content here. And I’ll come to that in just a moment. Do conventional pack shots work on mobile? So here on the screen you can see a very small thumbnail of a Dove product. You can potentially see what the brand is. You can’t tell if it’s shampoo or conditioner. You can’t tell what type it is. You can’t tell what size it is.
What Unilever have been pioneering — and really trying to create a shift in the entire industry — is re-thinking what we’re putting up online and not just being dependent on the pack shot itself. So for example, in their ice cream category whereas before they might have had a closed product, they’re now showing it open so you can see all the yummy deliciousness of their ice cream products. But they’ve gone a step further as well to creating a standard for hero images. And the hero images focus on the basics: What brand? What type? What’s the flavor variant? And what’s the pack size or pack count? And now when you take a look at that image for the same product, it’s much easier on a mobile device to see the brand, to see if it’s shampoo or conditioner, is it intensive repair or color care, and what size is the product.
Just as a quick aside here this is something that Unilever has open sourced with their partner University of Cambridge. If you want to go and learn more about this in depth, a quick way to do it is to Google “Cambridge e-commerce inclusive design”; Oliver Bradley at Unilever has posts on this on LinkedIn; or you can look on Twitter @eCommerceULVR and you’ll find all of the open source and ready images there. In addition for those in Europe, if you’ll join us at our e-Commerce Accelerator Summit on October 5th, Ollie [Bradley] is one of our featured speakers and will be going into depth on this research and recommendations.
Moving on from image, I mentioned up front that titles can be shortened. One of the interesting insights that came out of this was going in we had the assumption that it to do with the number of characters. In fact it has to do with the width of the characters. So if your title has a lot of O’s in it, there will be less words visible on a smaller screen than if you had a lot of I’s in your title. But not to say that you need to optimize by the type of letter, but it’s important to keep in mind that those first few words are what’s more likely to be seen across all devices. There’s a school of thought out there about really packing your titles with all kinds of key words and whatnot. Just keep in mind that those first few words are what shoppers are most likely to see in search. And for that 10%-30% of the time that they’re actually looking at the title versus the image, it’s important that they can be communicated what it is that they’re looking at.
Features and descriptions. Very interesting findings here. The technology is changing very quickly. So even since we did this PeaPod has been out with a new web site. Their app has been updated. Same thing with Walmart. But just some examples of what we’ve seen previously — at one point Peapod’s app for example did not include ingredients for personal care products. Amazon’s tablet app for iPad did not include the field that includes A+ content. So for manufacturers who were relying solely on A+ content for description, there was no description showing up for those products at all. Amazon has since fixed that and brought that capability in. But it is important to note that there are differences in terms of how these fields are surfaced by platform and device. And it’s important to consider all devices and understanding that by retailer so that your message is getting across, regardless of how the shopper is finding your data.
So what’s happening in search? There are indeed differences in search results, but what we have found is that it is more driven by technology and the way that the results are served, rather than any fundamental difference in the way the algorithm is run or looking at a mobile shopper versus a desktop shopper. These results here are actually out of date. Currently I believe 1 and 2 is shared with a Luvs product. It’s either Huggies and Luvs or Pampers and Luvs. But interestingly the results are the same. If you search for “diapers” on desktop, what Amazon U.S. does is drop you into the diapers category. And then you’ll see Huggies first and Pampers second, at least at the time the data was captured. When we did the exact same search on app, the reverse was true: Pampers came up first; Huggies came up second. And the reason was — and it’s still the case — the Amazon app does not drop you into a baby or the diapers category. It shows you the results from all departments. So if you’re sitting at your desktop and after the webinar you want to play around: have a look at what happens to results when you see on Amazon all departments results versus within baby results or within your specific category. And in particularly high-traffic categories there can be a difference in those search results. It can be nuanced but it’s important to understand.
The net of all of this, which you might have started to pick up by now, is what we’re largely seeing is that it is technology that is driving the differences across mobile and desktop, not necessarily insight. What I mean by that is one might think that we know the mobile shoppers is on a different trip mission; we know that she’s in a different place, on the go, out of home, and making some quick either research or purchase decisions — which might be very different than the shopper who is sitting in front of their desktop screen. However, what we’ve seen across pretty much every retailer around the world is that retailers are deploying technology piecemeal, kind of a patchwork. They have their desktop technology, their tablet app technology, their mobile app technology, their mobile web — and while it’s all pulling from the same source of information, because the platforms are not all the same, the content and the way it surfaces can be different. There are some differences. There are some exceptions to that both with sponsored; sponsored search can really change that. And in China we actually see quite a bit more of dynamic differences between desktop and app. However because China itself is such a big and different topic in and of itself, we’re actually going to leave that aside for a future webinar where we’ll go deep on the topic of the China e-commerce market and what’s driving it from a shopper and technology perspective.
One thing that I would just call out, just kind of coming back to that, and this might be a message to bring to your retailers if you’re looking to bring some category insight and really think about looking out there for iPad apps that are designed for iPad or Android tablets. Look at apps that are designed for iPhones or for mobile phones. And look at the differences of what makes for a winning and a high-quality app. If you look across the landscape, what we’ve observed is largely it’s a functionality of the screen. So you have a bigger screen on tablet, a smaller screen on mobile app. So what information is able to be served may be varied based on that. So I have the example on the right here of Myntra: the desktop version has far more functionality; the phone version is much more limited. Again assuming that the person who is looking at their phone isn’t managing anything, they’re just checking in, versus desktop where they’re looking to have more time to do functionality. We think that retailers have an opportunity to really rethink this. A lot of them are doing a nice job optimizing for the screen size. But they’re really not thinking about the shopper trip mission and thinking about how to optimize what they’re serving and how it’s served based on the shopper mindset. That really does vary based on the device that they’re on.
So key takeaways for this portion. First of all, fundamentals are absolutely the same; focus on the basics that we highlighted up front. Yes the images are the same. But they are much smaller when they are scaled down to a mobile screen. And winning brands are working on adopting new standards that do not rely solely on pack shots. Titles can be shorter; the first few words are the most critical. Content fields can also be shortened or have different ways of interacting and may require a swipe or a tap to see the full field. So always in your feature bulletin content fields make sure you’re leading with your most impactful copy. Assume that the shopper is not going to get past the first few words of any sentence or feature bullet. Search results may vary. There’s a lot more testing and learning to be done here in terms of how to optimize for it; the differences aren’t major but they are there. And understanding what they are can really help ensure that you understand that you’re delivering against your objectives in terms of search result. And finally, availability may vary. I mentioned I’d come back to this. There are some apps where products that are out of stock will not show up in the app at all — it just does not give you the option — versus if you go to the desktop version you’ll see option there but it says out of stock or can’t purchase online. The net of this is obvious and basic and the same as what was mentioned up front. Get in stock and stay in stock. It’s arguably the number one thing that anyone can do when managing an e-commerce business.
Are you seeing those differences on Amazon U.K. as well as the U.S. version of Amazon?
We are. The Amazon technology tends to be applied around the world. There’s obviously localization of the assortment and availability. But the underlying technology we’ve pretty consistently seen be deployed the same. As a company, a technology like Clavis that relies quite a bit on the source code, we look at this quite a bit and have a kind of fundamental understanding of it. So what will drive the difference of how perceptible it is is traffic. So obviously Amazon U.S. is far more penetrated and is much larger than Amazon anywhere else in the world. And the amount of traffic to any one category or brand will have an influence on just how dynamic those differences can be.
What channel is actually doing the best at mobile conversion?
Yeah sure, thanks. Good question. So mobile conversion is actually surprisingly enough done best by home shopping companies like QVC. I was actually surprised at finding that out myself doing my own research. It makes sense when you think about it because these are companies that not only have been not fettered by <unintelligible>. But they’re used to dealing with consumers who are quickly changing and very fickle, and there’s a lot of communication that goes back and forth. That’s not necessarily face to face, but they want it — very frequently, back and forth. So getting into the logistics of that communication and using that past expertise has actually given them really good conversion rates. And they’re now actually, QVC is about or over 50% all coming from mobile, which is a lot more than most other companies.
We all know that young kids can’t be bothered to put their phones down. But how do we get older shoppers to start shopping on their phones?
Sure. Habits are hard to break, which is why you can’t abandon your quality desktop sites. I already had some lesson in my part on why if older shoppers probably stuck on that kind of method that you have to still keep with that. But, of course, how do you actually make these conversions? I mentioned it a little bit but I think voice search is going to be big — especially with the elderly, who are people who are just used to using smartphones or they don’t like the touch screens. Maybe it’s hard for them to figure out how to make the letters larger. All those sorts of thing I think will help older shoppers on their phones, in addition to just it being around more and becoming more sophisticated and easier to do.
How important is it to actually have an app for you brand?
Sure. I would say 3-4 years ago there was a kind of an app craze around apps for brands. And every brand was coming up with clever ways to bring an app to market. What we’re facing is a glut of apps. There’s been some really compelling articles out there about the tens of millions of apps in any one of the app stores today. And you’re really fighting for mindshare on the screen for a select few number of apps that shoppers will use most often. What a lot of research has shown for example for retailers is for those retailers or brands or products that a user is most loyal to, they’ll use those apps for everything else they’ll use a mobile web browser like Google or Chrome or whatever they may have installed on their phone. So it’s really more about making sure that your content works in any format. We’re getting more into the digital space here, but when you’re thinking about things like web sites, digital content, digital presence, making sure that all of that will scale and by dynamic whether they’re looking on desktop, mobile web or app — apps can have their purpose. But they can have a very limited and short life to them, just based on whether or not they make their way into those phone users short-list of apps that they access regularly.
Any best practices in terms of package shots or other product shots so they can be optimized for the mobile channel?
It’s definitely worth having a look at doing some search and looking into what Unilever has been working on here. And the reason why it’s really important to consider is historically the industry — and I’ve been doing e-commerce full time for over six years now — we’ve relied pretty much entirely on packages themselves. We think about the package. It’s been designed to sit on a shelf and be viewed from no more than 3 feet away, sometimes less. This assumes a shopper can walk in, pick it up, flip it around, look at it, bring it closer to their eyes. Online you just don’t have that amount of time; you don’t have that real estate; you can’t make that message go through. And as we saw during the webinar, the images are so small you can read hardly anything that you might normally be able to read at the physical shelf. So re-thinking and working with retailers to re-think what defines that pack image and the product shot is just critical to accelerating adoption of e-commerce because this is a shopper frustration when they can’t easily or quickly find the product that they’re looking for. There’s some interesting corollaries or parallels as well if you look in the DVD or the video space if you will. Historically you had these packages that were designed for a Blockbuster shelf. Now that everything is digital: if you were to compare a movie package or movie image today versus, say, 10 years ago, it’s much more simplified; it’s just a title nice and big; you don’t have all the credits and everything because we understand there is a very short amount of attention span to capture and communicate what that particular item is.
Are you getting any differences in terms of categories prioritizing mobile versus desktop for e-commerce? So for example is CPG more mobile focused while electronics might be more desktop focused or vice versa?
Great question. I would say that category-wise for mobile specifically that apparel has definitely seen a large uptick. It’s easier to browse and kind of just flip through a bunch of pictures on your phone. And that really meshes with how people consumer apparel and how they like to browse it, especially in the modern age. We see a lot of mobile apps revolving around that — kind of swiping, sort of browsing, almost like an old catalog or the new version of an old catalog. As far as CPG is concerned, I actually think — and I haven’t seen data for this — but I would think that it actually is a little bit more mobile focused. I think you’ve got things like Amazon Prime now. I’ve heard stories about people using Door Dash for when they have a cold and they don’t want to run to the store because they have a cold — but they still want their medicine and their soup and their crackers and things of that nature. Those are things that lend themselves to more impulse purchases or “I need it by tonight” for a party maybe, some sort of thing like that. And those are centered more around mobile. Desktop would be used more for larger purchases, CE. In the beginning of my presentation I noted that consumer appliances are really big these days, are getting bigger these days globally as far as categories are concerned. That is the sort of purchase that tends to be higher in value. And even when it’s not, they’re plenty of research to be done. So I would imagine that people aren’t super comfortable doing the bulk of their research on mobile phones yet, at least for products like that that are very information and spec intensive. So that would lend itself definitely more towards desktop search.