How to adapt to changing customer expectations in online retail

A major shift is happening in the retail space, and that shift is being driven by customer expectations.

Today’s consumer is constantly connected. No longer does a customer simply visit your store, browse, and buy.

Today’s consumer does their research online, visits the store to physically inspect the item they’re considering, and purchases it online where they can often find it cheaper – sometimes on their smartphones while they’re in store.

This is becoming more and more common consumer behaviour, with 82% of smartphone users saying they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store.

How are retailers supposed to address this changing behaviour? It may seem out of your control – after all, you can’t exactly confiscate shoppers’ smartphones at the door!

The way you can address this is by understanding the expectations that lead to this changing behaviour.

Only then, can you find a way to meet, and perhaps exceed, those expectations.

Mobile shopping is on the rise

In the last decade, online shopping has drastically changed the face of retail.

Once-brick-and-mortar establishments have moved into the online realm, driven by customer demand and competition.

Now, online retail is an industry in and of itself, with the high street struggling to compete with bigger overheads, and a shopping experience that doesn’t meet the modern customer’s needs.

Most retailers have managed to adapt by setting up their own ecommerce channels, but are facing change once more with the rise of smartphones impacting the retail landscape.

Today, more than half of all digital purchases are made on mobile, and revenue from mobile has doubled in the last two years.

In 2017 alone, UK retail ecommerce sales made via smartphones will be worth a predicted £16.42 billion ($22.16 billion), with an anticipated 14.5% increase in overall retail ecommerce sales.

This is only set to rise, and mobile is going nowhere.

eMarketer predicts that by 2021, retail mcommerce in the UK will be worth £58.50 billion ($78.96 billion) and account for 51.7% of the country’s retail ecommerce sales.

Mobile web isn’t good enough – you need an app

It’s clear that mobile is the growth area of retail, and it’s crucial that businesses don’t overlook mobile. Those who are late to the party will lose out massively in the next few years.

At this point, you may be relieved that you opted for that mobile friendly online shop when you did.

But a mobile optimised website isn’t enough either – customers are looking for a different experience, built bespoke for mobile use.

They’re looking for an app.

A staggering 85.7% of mobile time is spent in app compared to only 14.3% in browser.

When you realise that the average time spent on mobile is up to 4 hours per day, that means that up to 3.5 hours a day are spent in-app for every smartphone user.

There are two key reasons for this preference to app over mobile web, explains Poq’s Head of Product Balint Szeplaki

“One is usability, whereby interactions are quick and responsive and the other one is familiarity, whereby navigation options and interactions are familiar. You can do most of these in web, but they will always feel clunky and perform far worse than apps.”

Future proof your business and meet your customers’ expectations

Unlike mobile-optimised websites, apps are created specifically for the best mobile user experience. Customers have become accustomed to this level of user experience, and now expect it from all mobile interactions, no matter the brand.

Consumers expect an app experience the same way they do using apps like Spotify, WhatsApp, Facebook and Uber, so why would your retail brand be excluded from this?

An optimised user experience leads to higher conversions

Apps have been proven again and again to perform better than mobile web and even better than desktop in some circumstances.

In Q1 2017, apps outperformed mobile web conversion rates by 40%, indicating that apps provide a more engaging user experience.

On top of this, apps boast browsing duration that rivals desktop, higher interaction than both desktop and mobile web, and the highest average order value compared to desktop and mobile web.

Personalisation leads to trust

Customers are accustomed to having their app personalised to them – whether that’s through something as simple as having their shipping address and payment method stored without having to log in every time, or through curated items and offers based on preferences or purchase history.

This degree of personalisation creates a stickiness factor that encourages the customer to make the app their first port of call when looking to make a purchase, and this extends to in-store behaviour too.

A reported 38% of shoppers have seen something they liked in a store over the past year, then went on to order the item from that same store’s mobile app either right there on the spot, or soon afterward.

This instinct to check via the app, where the shopping experience is more personalised than a store could ever be, and the possibility of a better deal is always lingering, means that apps are essential to keeping your customers from purchasing from your brand, whether that’s in-store or on mobile.

Don’t get left behind when it comes to mobile

Mobile use is only increasing, and those retailers who are prioritising and innovating with mobile are the ones who are getting ahead.

By the end of 2017, over half of all SMEs will have a business app, and this trend goes for retailers too.

ASOS reported in October that mobile accounts for 69% of all of its overall traffic. In fact, since the launch of its mobile app, half of the online retail giant’s sales are made via its app.

By making the move to a mobile app, you too can see these kind of returns.

Customers will seek out shopping experiences that meet their expectations – don’t let your competitors take the spoils when it comes to app commerce.

Start your app commerce journey

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