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6 tips for a better mobile retail experience

Sharon Goldman | Nov. 9, 2015
Mobile technology should be a perfect way for stores to enhance the in-store shopping experience for their customers, but far too often it’s clunky and frustrating. Here are six ways to improve the retail app experience.

2. Make content mobile-friendly

In a rush to “play” in mobile, retailers often try to shoehorn their online presence into their mobile apps, which just doesn’t work, says Aaron Glazer, CEO of mobile optimization platform Taplytics. “If the content and flow aren’t right-sized for a mobile device, which is a fraction of the size of most computers, it creates a very non-friendly user experience.” Checkout flow and browsing are two areas that retailers should be retooling for smaller mobile screens, he explains: “That means presenting shorter forms that flow into the next, fewer buttons, non-cluttered screens and only a couple of calls-to-action.” 

3. Remember, mobile is a relationship

“A customer’s mobile device isn’t a channel, it’s a relationship and it needs to be treated that way,” says Carla Fitzgerald, CMO at mobile solutions provider Smith Micro. “If you're always talking and never listening, observing and remembering what people like, what they do, and where they go, you won't keep relationships very long.” Apps need to be smarter, she adds, so they observe more than location. “You want to combine a series of events over time to really understand consumer context, preferences and intent,” she says. 

4. Understand what shoppers want on mobile

A recent consumer study from Bronto Software found that a majority of retailers expect consumers to use their mobile devices to read reviews and research return/exchange policies, but only 19 percent of shoppers say they will use their mobile device for that purpose. Instead, nearly two-thirds of consumers use mobile devices to search for promotions and coupons, or lower prices at another store. “Retailers need to keep the information customers are searching for front and center to improve the experience and make shopping painless,” says Jim Davidson, head of research for Bronto Software. 

5. Start small for more mobile success

What has led to bad user experiences on mobile, says Asay, is that companies try to go soup to nuts right from the start. “Instead, you should focus on one thing you can build into our app or mobile site that is hugely valuable and a reason for somebody to open your app,” he says. A non-retail example, he explains, is the ability to get a boarding pass through Delta’s app. “Now that I have that I use my Delta app all the time, but I wouldn’t have if not for that boarding pass,” he explains. “Retailers need to figure out what their ‘boarding pass’ is.” 

6. Up the ante on mobile infrastructure

According to a recent Mobiquity study, shoppers are frustrated with mobile technology – with low mobile load times proving the biggest complaint, followed by inconsistent user experiences and not enough mobile-accessible information. “These findings should come as a wake-up call to retailers, since we found a huge disconnect in terms of expectations versus reality,” says Scott Snyder, Mobiquity’s president and chief strategy officer. “This demonstrates the need for retailers to make improvements to both backend infrastructures as well as user-facing applications/portals.” 


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