How to Future-Proof Your Mobile Commerce Strategy

The momentum behind mobile commerce has been building since the advent of the smartphone — and that growth is shifting into higher gear.

By 2021, mobile eCommerce spending is expected to reach $3.5 trillion and account for nearly three-quarters (72.9%) of total eCommerce sales. For comparison, that’s 33.7% higher than 2019, when mobile commerce raked in $2.3 trillion.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the many benefits of mobile shopping, such as its ease, convenience, and immediacy. It’s also social-distancing friendly and enables shoppers to easily find and buy the products they want without compromising on hygiene or physical safety, which has become a top priority for many.

Keeping up with customer expectations and shifting behaviors requires a forward-thinking and nimble approach to mobile commerce — one that puts the customer experience front and center.

Here are four must-haves for a future-proofed mobile commerce strategy:

1. Create an Engaging Visual Experience

Small screens can still pack a big punch. With emerging technology such as visual AI and augmented reality, you can seize shopper intent to drive sales while producing a distinctive customer experience.

Visual AI capabilities such as camera search make it easy for shoppers to instantly locate specific products without having to waste time searching and scrolling through results. At the same moment they become inspired, they have the ability to find and buy a product.

All you need to do is upload a photo to the camera search tool (it can even be a screenshot of an Instagram post), and the technology instantly identifies every product in the image. From there, you select the product you want — let’s say it’s earrings — and all of the similar earrings in stock appear in your search results.

Camera search can be kicked into high-gear with inspiration galleries — Forever 21 does this especially well. Even if a visitor doesn’t have a specific image of their own to upload, they can browse a wide range of styles from an Instagram-like feed to find inspiration. From there, the camera search function is ready to bring them to specific products.

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Camera search is known to have a major uplifting effect on conversions. Online fashion retailer boohoo experienced an 85% conversion rate uplift for shoppers that used its camera search feature vs. those who didn’t.

Augmented reality (AR) is another great tool for increasing customer engagement, and in the era of COVID-19, it’s a way to bring the in-store experience into people’s homes. AR allows users to “try on” or more closely view products before making a purchase by bringing product images to life.

Some brands and retailers have been early adopters of this tech, such as ASOS with its Virtual Catwalk, Sephora’s Virtual Artist, and Ikea Place.

2. Leverage the Power of Social Media to Boost Mobile Commerce

If your mobile commerce strategy doesn’t focus on Instagram, you’ll want to fix that ASAP. In 2019, Instagram was the second most-used app, with around 1 billion users (approximately 13% of the global population).

The power of influence on Instagram, combined with other social media platforms, is just as big: 80% of Gen Z and 74% of millennials report that social media influences their purchasing decisions. Another 75% of millennials say a brand’s social media presence has an influence.

A successful mobile commerce strategy aims to leverage the power of social media by meeting customers where they already spend time (virtually). Beyond that, they create entirely new customer experiences that are designed to cohere with the structure of the platform and its features.

For example, knowing that 130 million users tap on Instagram shopping posts every month, brands and retailers with strong mobile commerce strategies put great care into building a distinctive shopping experience and brand aesthetic on the app.

Instagram also helps brands create a sense of community with users. By replying to, engaging with, and re-sharing customer stories, you’ll become an active part of shoppers’ daily lives by routinely appearing throughout their Instagram scrolls.

Reaching the followers of influencers is another important strategy. By identifying which influencers most authentically connect to your brand and creating new partnerships, you can reach thousands or even millions more people. In some cases, famous influencers will be best positioned to promote your strategy, and in others, micro-influencers will help you connect better with shoppers. While they may not have as many followers, micro-influencers are often able to engage more with individual followers, which can help you reach users on a more personal level.

3. Focus on Hyper-Personalization

Brands and retailers need to upgrade their personalization efforts on mobile to earn the trust and loyalty of contemporary shoppers. They need to go beyond personalization and achieve “hyper-personalized” experiences, which cater to the individual tastes of each shopper, as well as their current intention, context, and inspiration.

Visual AI is essential for creating hyper-personalized experiences. It allows personalization engines to create on-point recommendations based on the individual actions and unique tastes of each shopper on top of the statistical algorithms that power traditional recommendation engines.

The real magic of visual AI is its ability to understand and learn from minute details in the product images that shoppers interact with, and from there provide a highly sophisticated web of recommendations. With such capabilities, you can create brand new moments of inspiration by showing products to shoppers that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Another angle of hyper-personalization is the means through which you communicate with shoppers. Email marketing will always be an important marketing device, but it shouldn’t be the only way you talk to customers. Now, brands and retailers can reach shoppers in formats that feel far more personal and better suited for mobile, such as through SMS messages, Instagram direct messages, and tailored push notifications.

4. Build an Optimal Omnichannel Experience to Enhance Mobile Commerce

Mobile commerce shoppers want an interconnected experience — one in which every touchpoint seamlessly flows into the next, whether they reach you on social media, your website, app, or in the store.

On the other hand, a disjointed and fragmented experience can be frustrating and a big turnoff for shoppers. In fact, a disappointing mobile shopping experience can be enough to lose a customer on all channels.

An optimal omnichannel experience could look something like this: A shopper finds a product they like from a brand’s post on Instagram that they viewed from their smartphone. They click on the brand’s page to examine more posts, then travel to the brand’s website to better explore who they are. They add some products to their basket, but don’t yet make a purchase. A few days later, when they happen to walk by the store, they stop inside and pull up their saved items from an in-store digital kiosk. A store clerk brings them the items and the shopper completes the purchase.

A distinctive and sophisticated customer experience seamlessly guides users across all of these touchpoints, irrespective of whether they are online or in a store.

Seize the Upward Momentum of Mobile Commerce

The accelerating growth of mobile commerce is enough to prove just how fundamental a solid mobile commerce strategy is to overall business success.

By focusing on the principles of visual engagement, hyper-personalization, leveraging social media, and providing a smooth omnichannel experience, you’ll be positioned to build on that momentum and provide a unique customer experience.