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eTail Takeaways – Day Two

Day Two of eTail has successfully wrapped up and was another interesting day. The best quote I walked away with was, “we’ve evolved past minimizing sites to truly mobilizing sites.” This quote is especially poignant given the attention and resources a mobile presence has commanded during the conference.

etail conference day 2While retailers are working to define their mobile strategy, it’s important that retailers know why they are pursuing a particular strategy and not just do so because their competition is.

About half of today’s panelists indicated that their company had pursued mobile app development while the other half stated that they prioritized their mobile website development instead. The decision to develop a mobile app came down to brand identity and how their customers interacted with their brand. Other factors included costs and how the brand planned to communicate with customers. The ability to push customer communications, including promotions, was key. For others, the cost to create and maintain new content for a mobile app was not scalable – and creating a stale app that users would delete would do more damage to the brand than good.

One panelist stated that technology will enter a brick and mortar store front regardless of whether the store integrates technology or not, given how people bring technology with them through their smartphone. However, technology can serve brick and mortar establishments by empowering both the sales force and the customer. Some stores will provide customers with tablets so that customers can search size and color availability in real time without having to have a store associate run back and forth. Additionally, you can leverage your online presence in-store to order out-of-stock items. Reversely, you can drive traffic from your website to your store by promoting free in-store pick-up.

While it’s obvious that having a mobile presence is essential, we must revisit the need for a mobile strategy. Supporting every display size in landscape and portrait mode is complex and expensive, and turning your current desktop site into a mobile site may not render correctly, causing a break in functionality. This means that, within your mobile strategy, you must decide which displays sizes you will and will not support. To make this decision you need to know how your customers engage with your site and how their behaviors may vary by device.

For example, Hotwire indicated that the majority of their smartphone traffic books same-day travel or accommodations. Dell indicated that their customers conduct research on their smartphones and will also contact customer support if their tablet or laptop isn’t functioning. As you can see, the mobile strategy for Hotwire and Dell will be very different based on their customer engagement.

One message was very clear: the more channels a customer uses to engage with your brand, the higher the conversion. In fact, Dell indicated that conversions increased exponentially when customers engaged across multiple channels.  In addition, site actions such as click-to-call and click-to-chat also contributed to higher conversion rates, though conversion rates are no longer the only metric you should examine.

The traditional “showroom” is no longer solely a store front, as people research on their phone and then head into a store to make their purchase. Though it’s difficult to track across channels, we need to understand what percent of customers start and finish their transaction on their phone versus those who perhaps start on their phone and purchase either on their tablet, laptop or in-store.

So as you think about your mobile presence … mobile it and don’t just minimize it!

Thank you,