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As the back-to-school shopping season slowly winds down, retailers and fashion apparel brands are eyeing forecasts and sales estimates for the critical fourth-quarter shopping season.

And based on consumer behavior trends for the past two years, one thing is clear: online shopping continues to grow. And as consumers spend about 60 percent of their time on mobile devices (versus about 40 percent in 2103, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), the role of m-commerce in particular is even more prevalent. But to succeed, retailers and brands need to make investments in technology as well as the infrastructure to support it, said Michele Dupré, group vice president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ retail and hospitality practice.

Dupré told WWD that the momentum of e-commerce and m-commerce “will continue to play a more dominant role” this season. From a retail strategic perspective, Dupré said companies need to take advantage of a consumer’s willingness to download their native apps, which is increasingly being used by consumers to purchase items while shopping inside a physical store.

Dupré said there is a lot more adoption of mobile apps, but it is important for a retailer or brand to be more strategic. “You need to entice the consumer,” she said, adding the retailers with robust mobile platforms and their own apps tied to a rewards program or specific promotion are the ones who will fare well this holiday. “It’s not a new channel [of selling], but this approach is an opportunity that can be leveraged more,” she said.

Dupré noted that adding a mobile payment/transaction piece to the strategy is even better, and can create a more engaging shopping experience for the consumer. That said, retailers need to allocate more money than they have in the past to make sure e-commerce and m-commerce experiences are positive.

“I still think the [chief information officer] at companies are being short-changed in regard to the amount of investment needed in technology,” Dupré said. “Technology is critical to the success of any brand today, and that includes the infrastructure.”

In a recent note to clients, Dupré said it is critical to “frequently test what your customers encounter once they’ve followed the digital path to your web site. Are your customers personally greeted and is the functionality user-friendly and fast? Is it easy to get customer service support if needed, and will your associates recognize returning customers? How good are your analytics for predicting inventory needs and customer preferences?”

Dupré said, lastly, and “most significantly, can your e-commerce and m-commerce platforms handle traffic increases around holidays and promotions?” Dupré said that having “flexible and secure network infrastructures, bolstered by robust IT hosting environments, are essential underpinnings of a sound operational model.”

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