Here are some key takeaways:
1. Velocity of adoption
Though according to allthingsd.com, only about 20% of all web traffic in the US originated from a mobile device (smart phone or tablet) in 2012, Gartner expects that over 50% of web traffic in 2013 will shift to smartphones and tablets. If both allthingsd.com’s and Gartner’s numbers are correct, that would be a pretty significant shift, especially given the sudden acceleration of that change.
Relevance: Whether Gartner is reading more into the web-enabled device mobile-to-computer curve or not (see infographic above), the shift to devices is coming. It doesn’t really matter if that change happens in 2013, 2014 or 2015: It will happen. Consumers are increasingly likely to search for, find, discover and access your website from a mobile device than from a laptop or desktop PC. Even if that number only increases to 35% in 2013, that is 35% of your potential market. How much is that worth to your business? How many consumers are you potentially turning off or not properly converting by pursuing a digital strategy that is better suited to work in a 2010 digital environment than a 2013 digital environment?
Fix: Companies currently thinking of and designing their brands’ digital experiences and/or e-commerce sites primarily for laptop and desktop users need to adjust their strategy asap. The web is no longer about computers. And we aren’t just talking about website design but search, purpose/utility, UX/UI, e-commerce and social features.
2. 2011-2013: Mobile Sales Explode
Speaking of e-commerce, key indicators like Black Friday sales show an increase of 40% in online purchases made from a mobile device between 2011 to 2012. The number of online shoppers using mobile devices to make a purchase on Black Friday increased by 166% between 2011 and 2012. Paypal also reported a 190% increase in mobile payment volume between 2011 and 2012.
Relevance: Consumers aren’t only accessing websites from mobile devices with greater frequency and in greater volume, they are also becoming increasingly comfortable making purchases from their mobile devices as well. If you are not actively working to make your products easy to purchase via mobile devices, you are leaving money on the table. E-commerce is now indivisible from mobile commerce. What’s your strategy?
Fix: You basically have two options to make this work. The first is to create simple, painless, even fun mobile shopping purchasing experiences for your customers (see Nespresso example below), or you can work with key retailers to ensure that they create simple, painless, even fun mobile shopping and purchasing experiences for your (their) customers. Two examples:
a) Direct-to-consumer sales: Nespresso.
Nespresso sells espresso machines and espresso capsules/pods for those machines. Though every Nespresso product can also be purchased via Nespresso’s website, the company also created a mobile/tablet app that allows customers to order items (especially the capsules) on the fly. The process is quick and easy and is a lot quicker than opening up a browser, looking for a website, navigating through it to find the right page and finally order products.
b) Distribution model: Amazon
Amazon’s web experience is already pretty stellar but their app also allows shoppers to scan bar codes, search for a product by snapping a photograph of it, and so on. Everything about Amazon is geared towards ironing out hurdles between the search/shopping phase of the digital experience and the purchase/order phase of the digital experience. In addition, Amazon has been known to experiment with themed, seasonal mobile and tablet apps like the Santa App they launched in December 2011 (see below) to help children help tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.
3. Adjusting expectations
44% of mobile app users who will ultimately make in-app purchases take 10 visits to finally take that step. 33% will make a purchase between their second and ninth visit. 22% will become customers after using your app only once. 22% isn’t bad, but remember not to try and set unrealistic goals for your digital team. And remember to design your app around realistic consumer behaviors and not in opposition to them.
Relevance: If your mobile app doesn’t enable and drive some kind of transaction, you probably haven’t designed it with the right objectives in mind. Also, if your mobile app doesn’t make your customers’ shopping experience easier or better than it was before you launched the app, then it probably doesn’t offer enough value to be effective. Don’t just focus on what you hope customers will do but on why they should want to do it in the first place.
Fix: Don’t create an app just “to be in mobile.” Create an app that improves your customers’ lives in some way and/or solves a problem for them. If you are a retailer, it could simplify the shopping/purchasing/ordering process. If you are a utility, it could help customers pay their bills, browse services they don’t currently know, manage their utility usage, etc. If you are an insurance company, it might (in addition to scheduling payments) provide tips, real-time assistance and even file claims. (Think about car accidents, unexpected visits to the emergency room, etc.).
Note: Having a presence on social media channels can play a crucial part in the process of value creation we just outline. Listening to your customers (and your competitor’s customers) with the help of digital monitoring tools (yes, like Tickr) can help you identify pain points/areas of improvement. These could be turned into your mobile app’s key value-add features and make the difference between your app just being there and your app being a commercial success. Ideally, your presence on social channels also drives a healthy dialog between your company and your customers (don’t just listen to what they’re saying: also respond, ask for their advice, acknowledge their contribution to their process and reward them for their help), but even if you haven’t built that type of social practice yet, active listening will make a world of difference in your app’s ideation process. Don’t just guess. Go find out. It’s easy to do now. All you need are the right tools.