The ubiquity of mobile devices has prompted companies to revamp their marketing practices. Traditional methods of marketing won't cut it anymore with customers using multiple devices to research products and make buying decisions on the go. Customers no longer exclusively buy items on PCs or in physical stores.
Customers expecting companies to offer a rich mobile experience means providing them with a way to research and purchase products as well as a platform that can easily help them take advantage of discounts and other perks. All companies are expected to offer some kind of mobile experience for customers.
But that doesn't mean companies should have a mobile presence simply for the sake of it. The challenge lies in figuring out how to use the mobile user experience to foster high-level customer engagement, which will lead to deeper relationships and more sales. Here are some trends to keep in mind when developing your mobile experience.
Mobile has changed the path to purchase
Customers are getting more and more comfortable with shopping on mobile devices, especially to help them navigate the in-store experience. A report from retail strategy and marketing firm InReality revealed that 71% of shoppers who are enrolled in loyalty programs still use mobile devices for price comparisons. The vast majority of consumers -- 88% according to InReality's report -- say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, showing that "technology, especially mobile, is having an impact on the store -- changing the shopper's path to purchase," the report said.
But the mobile experience doesn't always have to end with the customer purchasing something; it can simply make the customer's overall experience easier and more seamless.
Outback Steakhouse's mobile user experience involves providing customers with real-time wait time data via its "Click Thru Seating" app. A consumer survey noted that some customers could wait up to 40 minutes to be seated. By allowing diners to use a mobile device to access current wait times and place a reservation, Outback aims to lessen customer frustrations by getting them seated faster.
"Our No. 1 priority is to provide our guests with the best customer experience possible," said Elizabeth Watts, Outback's director of media and community relations. "Click Thru Seating empowers our guests [to] get a table when they want it."
In-store mobile use is on the rise
Customers are using mobile devices to enhance their experiences while in a physical store, an Accenture survey of U.S. retailer operations shows. But companies are still slow to deliver that mobile experience.
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