Brands with both a physical and digital presence make almost 30% more in revenue. Consumers report a higher level of satisfaction with brands that have both a brick-and-mortar and online store, according to a recent study. Legacy brands who once hailed shopping malls as their “mecca” are now having to close shop, and once-startup, online-only brands, including Warby Parker and Birchbox, are moving in and opening their doors. Department and chain stores, in an effort to remain relevant, are spending upward of $4 billion on ecommerce platforms, redesigns, loyalty programs and in-store technology to keep consumers connected at all times.
There are plenty of ecommerce sites running fully functioning, profitable operations sans a physical footprint. And, there are also plenty of boutiques, even legacy luxury brands, whom avoid the ecommerce industry, focusing instead on offering a local clientele exclusive, one-of-a-kind products.
What is it then that makes multi-channel retailers of all sizes more successful than their solo-channel counterparts? Simple: a consumer-wide shift in shopping habits.
“Customers are increasingly expecting to shop any time they want, more inclined to shop multi-channel, looking to social media for ideas and recommendations, and − particularly in emerging markets − using the phone as a major means of internet access,” cited PricewaterhouseCoopers in a recent report.
In all, what the data reveals is surprising: consumers are using mobile to browse and compare, saving desktop and in-store outlets to actually purchase.
Mobile Matters Most –– But Not for Conversions, Yet
Mobile commerce is the current darling of the ecommerce world. Yet, 53% of U.S. consumers surveyed reported they’ve never purchased on their smartphones. To put that in perspective, for in-store and desktop checkout, only 4 and 6%, respectively, said they have never completed a purchase via those outlets.
In fact, in-store and desktop purchases are by far the leading checkout methods for shoppers in the U.S., with 78% surveyed reporting they have shopped in-store with their favorite brand and 68% reporting they have done so on desktop. When it comes to mobile shopping, only 15% reported they had utilized that method to buy an item.
Yet, the lower usage of mobile commerce in comparison to in-store or desktop purchasing is no reason to ignore the platform. With malls losing dominance in the mind of the consumer, window shopping has moved to smartphones, where users can browse sites and products, bookmark what they like –– typically by sharing it socially –– and then purchase either in store or on desktop, where typing in card information is considered more convenient.
Indeed, a mobile-friendly site is absolutely a necessity in the ecommerce world. Come April 21, Google will begin penalizing sites that are not mobile-friendly, meaning your brand will lose all of those mobile window shoppers to a competitor –– not to mention your good SEO rankings, too.
In all, mobile might not convert at the same profitable rates as desktop and in-store shoppers, but having a mobile-friendly presence that allows for easy customer browsing will increase your sales via both your digital and physical presences. If you haven't already, get started with responsive design to make your site more accessible, regardless of device.
And, stay tuned. Mobile commerce is still a burgeoning market and with the introduction of ApplePay, as well as the many other mobile wallets, it's likely that some of the issues currently preventing consumers from purchasing on mobile –– 27% of consumers say the mobile screen is too small to checkout, for example –– have already been solved. At this point, mobile commerce is just a matter of market adoption. Don’t let your brand be the last to join.
Originally published Mar 19, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017