Strengthening relationships with mobile consumers

This year, smartphones are expected to influence more than 32 percent of in-store retail sales in the U.S.,1 signaling to companies the critical significance of a perfected mobile shopping experience. The convergence of physical and digital environments should no longer be viewed as a suggested business strategy — rather, a necessity.

To help companies navigate the seamless mobile experience consumers expect, Bank of America Merchant Services offers a deep dive into the vital role mobile plays in a multichannel operation and how it can be optimized to help grow customer loyalty.
 

Capitalize on consumer demand

Nearly 60 percent of shoppers today will make a purchase online (either through a smartphone or computer) after first seeing the item in store.2 It’s likely they browsed product reviews and competitor pricing online before making a purchase, too. Each of these mobile touchpoints is an opportunity for businesses to entice their customers with a frictionless experience.

Synergy across purchase devices, particularly in the form of shared shopping carts, is an example of a growing consumer demand in which more companies may begin to capitalize. By enabling a shared cart, shoppers could, for example, add an item seen in-store to their cart in a mobile app and later purchase from a computer. According to a recent BRP Consulting report, 56 percent of customers prefer retailers that have a shared cart across channels, but only 7 percent of retailers offer that functionality.2

“A shared cart that carries a consumer’s preferred form of payment throughout their purchase journey, regardless of which channel they begin and end with, can be a real differentiator for merchants,” says Robin Reodica, product management executive for Bank of America Merchant Services. “Companies that can create a consistent, cohesive experience for their customers across all channels have a real opportunity to distinguish themselves in the market.”
 

Payment is moving to the background

Nearly 60 percent of shoppers today will make a purchase online (either through a smartphone or computer) after first seeing the item in store.3 It’s likely they browsed product reviews and competitor pricing online before making a purchase, too. Each of these mobile touchpoints is an opportunity for businesses to entice their customers with a frictionless experience.

Synergy across purchase devices, particularly in the form of shared shopping carts, is an example of a growing consumer demand in which more companies may begin to capitalize. By enabling a shared cart, shoppers could, for example, add an item seen in-store to their cart in a mobile app and later purchase from a computer. According to a recent BRP Consulting report, 56 percent of customers prefer retailers that have a shared cart across channels, but only 7 percent of retailers offer that functionality.2

“A shared cart that carries a consumer’s preferred form of payment throughout their purchase journey, regardless of which channel they begin and end with, can be a real differentiator for merchants,” says Robin Reodica, product management executive for Bank of America Merchant Services. “Companies that can create a consistent, cohesive experience for their customers across all channels have a real opportunity to distinguish themselves in the market.”
 

Harness the power of data

Improving the customer’s journey with a seamless mobile experience doesn’t only delight the customer — it can also help companies harness the power of mobile data to gain an edge in the marketplace.

Analyzing data that shows how and where customers make purchases can help businesses create a personalized shopping experience for each individual shopper. And with nearly 90 percent of consumers demanding a personal touch,3 companies will be hard pressed to deliver.

Each click from a customer who visits a website or mobile app is a data point. Visits and conversion rates are important, but it’s also important to monitor what happens between the moment someone enters your website and the moment they decide to make a purchase — or leave. Companies that fail to capture this full range of indicative data could miss out on crucial insights that spark new sales or new engagement points with the consumer.

For example, some retail chains use geolocation data to detect when customers step into the store, then deliver customized offers to their smartphones. Other companies feature customized digital rewards programs, taking into account each customer’s buying history and location.

Advanced digital delivery solutions can also help drive customers in-store. For instance, geo-fencing uses mobile location-based services to determine a customer’s proximity to a store and, in moments, sends them a one-time “must use now” coupon. This just-in-time approach is gaining in popularity among the most competitive companies.

Capitalizing on insights gained from mobile data, in combination with data from other customer interactions, can help companies get a 360-degree view of their customers, build smarter loyalty programs, more precisely measure campaign performance and help reduce costs. All of these insights give businesses a deeper understanding of their sales trends that are critical to driving performance.
 


“Companies that fail to capture this full range of indicative data could
miss out on crucial insights that spark new sales.”
 

Foster loyalty through mWeb; maintain it with apps

For a company’s most loyal customers, apps can be vital to fueling an enhanced experience.

App downloads and usage often come from a company’s most loyal customers — signaling the value of an extraordinary experience. Recent research from Forrester proves The Home Depot and Sephora excel in this field.5

In the study, Forrester reviewed nine leading U.S. retail apps for functionality and user experience. Most notably, The Home Depot best integrated its app with its in-store experience: once inside a store, customers can use the app to navigate aisles using visual item mapping data and inventory availability. Certain product pages offer out-of-the box features like augmented reality (AR), 360-degree views and video buying guides.

Sephora earned the second-highest score, due in part to its ability to “put the full power of its customer base right in the app.” Customers can post pictures, which other customers can use to find the best makeup for their look, skin tone and style. The in-app checkout experience also hits a high note, requiring customers to complete only two steps to finish the transaction.

“Apps should be tailored to your most loyal customers. For everyone else, a mobile web experience can provide a bridge between a new customer, an intermittent customer and a loyal one,” says Reodica.

For this reason, coupled with the fact that mobile devices generated nearly half of global website traffic in the first quarter of 2019,6 a responsive mWeb experience is equally important to a company’s mobile strategy. Companies often report higher traffic through this channel as non-loyal consumers browse and price check based on results from a browser search.

“mWeb is an opportunity to provide a great experience for a multitude of customers that aren’t your most loyal — yet,” says Reodica. “An amazing mobile web experience can help close the gap between loyal customers and regular consumers, and perhaps help convert first-time consumers to being repeat customers.”
 

Embrace a mobile world

Technology transformations have empowered today’s consumer to expect more out of a shopping experience, with nearly 70 percent of consumers saying their standard for good experiences are higher than ever.7 These evolving expectations present merchants with an unprecedented opportunity to innovate.

Every day, we move closer to a multi-channel commerce experience in which payments are seamless, secure and invisible, and the customer experience is personalized and tailored to their shopping journey. Companies studying these trends and making the effort to understand consumer behaviors and preferences can outpace the competition by reimagining their engagement and relationships with their customers.

“Ultimately, it will always be about the consumer experience and shopping moments,” says Bank of America Merchant Services CEO Tim Tynan. “We’re seeing channels converge and devices working together to make those experiences more simple, personal and accessible. And that’s what’s going to ultimately change the way we shop, buy, pay and live.”


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