iPhones, iPads and Androids, oh my! These days it seems like everyone and everything is going mobile. And while it’s nice being able to check Facebook while waiting in line at the supermarket, the increased prevalence of mobile devices brings with it major implications for the future of e-commerce.
Industry experts are finally realizing that the retail industry is experiencing a profound shift in consumer purchasing behavior that’s being powered by mobile devices. In fact, up to 7% of all e-commerce traffic now comes from mobile platforms, apps not included, and by 2014 revenue from mobile commerce (m-commerce) is expected to top $119 billion worldwide.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that mobile apps play a different role in the lives of consumers than traditional websites.
Considering that 20% of m-commerce app usage occurs offline, it’s clear that customers want to interact with a brand regardless of whether they’re in a coverage hotspot. They also spend more time with company-specific apps than on mobile websites, which speaks to a more intimate connection between brands and buyers on a mobile platform.
Clearly customers want more ways to stay connected with a brand they love, and offering up a mobile platform can help you foster this connection into repeated sales.
Hardware-wise, tablets have become especially effective at converting users into customers generating almost as many sales as traditional websites. Smart phones have lagged a bit in this department, which is understandable given the size and scalability of the screen.
Where smart phones do shine, though, is their ability to generate referrals and social sharing (i.e. engaged fans). On the whole, 28% of customers have shared deals via social media channels, regardless of whether or not they had a tangible incentive to do so. But the impact of mobile apps is much more profound when there is an incentive offered. A recent study found that 67% of customers would like a page on Facebook and 17% will retweet a deal if it would mean saving 25% or more on a purchase.
So if your average customer has their phone or tablet on them at all times (and it’s very likely they do), running a mobile customer referral program will compel fans to share your brand to friends and family whenever it’s appropriate. And sharing special deals is always appropriate.
Yes, developing a mobile app is hard and won’t work for every business. But when you have Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media platform available in the palm of your hand, it’s clear that mobile is quickly becoming the new face of engagement.
When you stop thinking of the platform as a tiny website and more as a way to facilitate a deeper customer-company interaction, a small app can have giant implications for turning happy customers into brand ambassadors.
And considering these ambassadors can share their discounts with anyone, anywhere and at anytime, the implications for generating customer referrals are just as large.
Has your business looked into a mobile app for customer referrals? Tell us your thoughts!