As this past holiday shopping season revealed, consumers are spending less time in stores, but more time researching and buying goods online.
And as recent data show, when consumers do get into the store, retailers are seeing higher average ticket transactions. What these trends reveal is the growing importance of e-commerce.
But quick on the heels of e-commerce is mobile commerce, or m-commerce, where shoppers use mobile devices to research, shop and then buy goods online. But the experience for many consumers is challenging as mobile sites are often slow to load.
Nitin Mangtani, chief executive officer of PredictSpring, a mobile commerce platform, is working to change how people shop on mobile phones. Mangtani, who previously worked on the development of Google Shopping as well as the retail team at the Internet giant for seven years, discusses these challenges, the benefits of m-commerce and how it will help transform the shopping experience.
WWD: What are some of the key challenges with mobile commerce today?
Nitin Mangtani: The biggest challenge with mobile commerce today is low conversion rates. Mobile shopping experiences are cumbersome, and only deliver a quarter of the conversion rates of e-commerce Web sites. And that means retailers are losing billions of dollars in potential sales every year.
Today, mobile commerce is hindered by pages that take six to eight seconds to load, and a checkout process that requires filling in complex forms for shipping and billing information.
And while 60 percent of consumers’ online retail browsing is currently done on mobile devices, only 15 percent of retail dollars are spent on mobile devices. It’s what comScore refers to as the “m-commerce gap.”
WWD: So, how would you solve the “m-commerce gap”?
N.M.: The best mobile shopping experience is Instagram meets Uber. What I mean by that is to build a shopping experience that is fast and visually rich as Instagram – it’s inspiring and conveys your brand message – and build a checkout and delivery experience that is as seamless as Uber.
When you are building mobile experiences, I think you have to focus on three things. The first is speed. At Google, we realized that every 100 milliseconds of additional latency impacts consumer engagement. Right now, mobile pages take six to eight seconds to load. An ideal mobile commerce experience should take a few hundred milliseconds to load.
Second is the visual experience. We live in a world where images and visual experiences play a critical part in the discovery experience. Build mobile experiences that are visually rich and engaging.
And lastly, native checkout. Companies need to leverage digital wallets like Apple Pay to build the most amazing checkout experience.
WWD: What is your take on mobile apps versus mobile optimized sites?
N.M.: We haven’t seen any real innovation in the last thee years when it comes to mobile optimized sites or mobile browsers. Innovation is centered around native mobile apps. Whether it’s Apple Pay, push notifications, geofence notifications, iBeacons, bar-code scanning, visual search, app indexing or app streaming. All these features are focused around building native mobile apps.
Engagement on native mobile apps is 10 to 15 times higher than on mobile commerce sites, conversions on native mobile apps are three to four times higher than mobile sites, studies show.
And the trendsetting Millennials love m-commerce apps. A recent survey from visual marketing firm Pixlee found that almost 50 percent of respondents had downloaded a mobile shopping app to their phones because they find them superior to mobile sites.
WWD: How do you create a so-called seamless experience for the consumer who may chose to start their shopping journey in a store or on their phone?
N.M.: We have talked about omnichannel and multichannel for almost a decade now — mobile is the true omnichannel device. It’s the one thing that consumers carry with them no matter where they are. They carry their mobile phones while they’re sitting at home on their couch, in the office, walking downtown and in your store. If there is one experience that you want to get right, it’s mobile. It is the unifying experience that brings all these channels together. It is developing every consumer interaction with mobile at its center, starting with early UX designs. It means revamping existing e-commerce interactions from the ground up, not simply retrofitting them for mobile.
WWD: Can you share any advice for retail or fashion apparel executives?
N.M.: Retailers and brands to this day devote the majority of their digital resources to desktop e-commerce, but they must shift an equal portion of that priority toward mobile if they want to remain relevant.
If your resource allocation pool and budget is heavily oriented towards desktop e-commerce, you should reevaluate your priorities and think about what resources are needed to build the best mobile experience to meet the expectations of today’s consumer.
It’s about making sure there is enough wood behind the mobile arrow. The time for doubling down on mobile commerce is now.