Each year, the retail shopping season seems to catch us off guard, beginning sooner than we expect. Retailers begin to see a lift in sales during the back-to-school season, which continues through post-holiday sales at the end of the year.
June is the perfect time for digital marketers to examine last year’s trends and prepare to execute on new ideas that will help drive this year’s sales.
Based on the customer behaviors that we saw last year, we expect mobile — browsing, showrooming and purchasing — to continue to grow in 2014, supported by research-savvy shoppers who browse user reviews before purchasing.
Let’s take a deeper look at this trend and explore a few simple ways to leverage those learnings in time for the 2014 retail holiday season.
Mobile Shopping Behaviors In The 2013 Marketplace
Before the 2013 holiday season started, many consumers reported that they planned to research products and prices on their mobile devices before making a purchase. According to the National Retail Federation, 27.2% planned to use their smartphones while 32.8% planned to use their tablets.
The data show that consumers were particularly interested in product reviews; product review page views in November and December of 2013 exceeded the monthly average during the rest of 2013 by 38% and 48%, respectively. After the holidays, mobile page view traffic remained elevated compared to pre-holiday statistics, which suggests that new mobile shoppers enjoyed the experience enough to continue shopping on their mobile devices regularly.
What Marketers Can Expect In 2014
Mobile shopping will continue to experience strong growth, and mobile wallet usage will continue to gain acceptance. When making purchasing decisions, customers will still rely on basic information such as pricing and product details, but will also look for detailed insights such as user-generated feedback.
To satisfy “research-first” shoppers, retailers will need to develop richer content experiences, including user-generated reviews, curated lists, and other multimedia content. Marketers should ensure that this information is relevant and easy to access, particularly for the mobile user.
For a strong holiday season in 2014, make it a priority now to gather customer feedback about everything from your mobile experience to your actual products.
Start With The Mobile Experience
Experienced shoppers who are already researching on their mobile devices will be more likely to also convert on mobile if the research experience is a good one.
Find out what your customers think about your mobile site through surveys, feedback forms, focus groups, or usability testing. You’ll identify problems that might prevent a new customer from choosing you, while increasing satisfaction among your loyal shoppers. You may even find that your happiest customers could become your biggest advocates with a little extra attention.
Gather Product Feedback
User reviews are important to shoppers, so start nurturing their development now. First and foremost, make sure it’s easy for your customers to leave reviews after they purchase, so that future customers find your site useful. From there, work on cultivating reviews.
One effective tactic is to send a simple follow-up email to customers who have made an in-app or online purchase, requesting that they leave a review. Many marketers will sweeten the deal with incentives such as a percentage off or free shipping on the next purchase.
Customers will be influenced by the volume of reviews as well their level of detail and positivity. The more reviews a product has, the more probable it is that a customer will take a chance on purchasing that product.
Showcase Reviews To Their Best Advantage
User reviews have been around since long before the meteoric rise of mobile shopping, but mobile devices pose new challenges. A small screen, combined with the density of information within that small screen, means that marketers have a tough choice to make when deciding which information is most important.
The research indicates that mobile users are particularly interested in user reviews, which suggests that giving that information priority would be a wise decision. Marketers should make it possible for customers to sort reviews for a highly relevant experience. Review text should be easy to read on all devices.
To ensure maximum visibility, feature product reviews across multiple channels. Give reviews prime real estate on your website, and also include them in your mobile app and as part of any product-focused email campaign.
Put Users In Control Of How To Use The Information
Display reviews prominently, as close to the product as possible, so that they’re easy to find. Amazon’s app displays an easy-to-scan rating just above and to the right of the product image. Amazon app users can also tell at a glance just how many people have already reviewed that particular product, an informal indication of its popularity.
But most importantly, Amazon allows users to easily sort by “most helpful review,” as voted by other users. This volume of information that is curated by the buying audience goes a long way to informing and persuading customers toward a purchase.
Another technique that many retailers use is indicating a power reviewer with a special badge, such as in the following Macy’s example:
This is another way to indicate value and trust to shoppers while rewarding engaged customers by acknowledging their special status.
Encouraging customer videos and product shots adds an additional level of detail and validity to the review.
Macy’s is also smart to incentivize reviews in-app with the chance to win a gift certificate.
Providing customers with relevant user-generated information in an easy-to-sort format will definitely put marketers in a good position to meet the needs and expectations of the mobile shopper this holiday season.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.