Maximizing the Mobile Commerce Experience

It’s official: Mobile is moving into the mainstream. With the ever-growing proliferation of devices offering full Internet browsing access, more and more consumers are interacting — and purchasing — on the Web via their device of choice. In fact, according to an October 2008 Forrester Research report, (“How Shoppers Evolve Online”) “the history of category growth in the online shopping world is likely to be replicated in mobile shopping.”

Adding to this trend, there are now more than 40 million active monthly users of the mobile Internet in the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen Mobile — a 73 percent increase since 2006. Plus, many markets include more avid mobile users than the U.S. Worldwide, there are 800 million users of Web-capable handsets. With carriers looking to remain competitive, new browser-enabled devices are launching every month, Devices such as the iPhone, the BlackBerry Storm, the G1 and the Instinct only accelerate the trajectory of mobile commerce market growth.

The Mobile Experience and Why It Matters

As more consumers rely on mobility for e-commerce, meeting expectations for mobile customer experience will be essential to reaping the benefits of this new business channel. There needs to be greater awareness around the challenges of online experiences being provided to customers via a desktop vs. a mobile device. Optimizing mobile commerce customer experience is a way for companies to meet consumer preference for multichannel flexibility, ultimately achieving greater profitability.

When consumers navigate the online channel, they expect a high-quality experience whether they are on a mobile device or at their desktop. E-commerce companies, as a result, need to address a whole new set of challenges. For one, supporting Web transactions via mobile devices is very different than via desktops, in that it is dependent upon effectively delivering content to varied devices with a variety of browser types, screen sizes, resolutions and device limitations (such as not supporting JavaScript).

A mobile-friendly Customer Experience Management (CEM) solution gives companies a way to collect all of the data on their mobile customer sessions in order to discover and diagnose mobile Web experience problems, compare mobile experiences with desktop experiences (or between devices), and determine what needs to be fixed to get their mobile Web experience up to par to meet e-commerce demand. This visibility improves conversion rates by removing the mobile site obstacles that may be hindering sales or frustrating consumers that have come to expect a functional multichannel environment.

Mobile Customer Experience

Understanding the mobile experiences of customers is a winning strategy businesses should consider deploying to address any challenges that may be damaging e-commerce returns from the mobile online channel. Mobile CEM solutions should offer full visibility and insight into customers’ mobile experiences. This requires two main features:

  • Mobile replay: With mobile replay, businesses can actually see what their mobile customers see, with page-by-page capture and mobile browser-level recording functionality. Being able to replay a customer’s actual mobile experience on different devices is critical to discovering, understanding and diagnosing problems, improving success rates and increasing revenue. Look for solutions that do not depend on JavaScript or other mechanisms, since these are not enabled on many devices. Make sure the solution can replay an exact browser-level recording of each session, taking into account variables such as specific device capabilities, screen sizes and other limitations.
  • Mobile visitor and device metrics: Mobile-specific metrics complement the qualitative visibility of mobile session replay with quantitative insights by capturing and reporting powerful mobile visitor data. Mobile customer experience solutions can collect usage statistics and patterns, which provide actionable insights into mobile trends and anomalies to help refine the mobile commerce strategy and optimize results moving forward. For example, it may be that a higher percentage of mobile users are visiting a Web site via an iPhone, but when it comes to those actually transacting, the majority of revenue is originating from BlackBerry device users instead. This knowledge can help businesses optimize site experiences by device and ensure the online channel is fully supporting mobile commerce.

E-Commerce and Mobile Experience: Why Now?

Mobile commerce is currently a huge growth channel, providing business with a significant opportunity for monetization. This channel’s growth rate took off over the past year and will likely continue its ascent throughout 2009. In today’s economy, companies that optimize their mobile commerce customer experience strategies stand to benefit enormously by minimizing expenses associated with brick and mortar sales, as well as service costs from an online channel unable to support e-commerce.

Improving the mobile experience ensures that customers looking to transact online via a device can do so, rather than turning to more expensive channels or, worse yet, switching away to a competitor who has a multichannel environment that better meets their expectations.

John Dawes is vice president of product management at Tealeaf, a provider of customer experience management tools.

1 Comment

  • Hi John, great article.

    I wanted to let you know about http://frugalytics.com – a mobile shopping engine built for mobile. You can compare prices while in a store, get descriptions and ratings, and if they won’t price match, you can buy directly from your phone.

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