Online shopping – more and more often with a smartphone
Not only do I work in e-commerce, I am also using my smartphone repeatedly as a consumer: I enjoy online shopping – it offers so many advantages compared to browsing in high street stores. The products I want are hardly ever in stock, I can never find any sales advisors when I actually need them and when I just want to look around in peace, I’m constantly approached by staff. I’m not alone in thinking this. Surveys show the huge and ever-increasing popularity of online shopping across all consumer groups. The range of channels available is important to me – as it is to most costumers. One of the e-commerce trends is that most purchases are now made by smartphone. Optimizing for mobile commerce is therefore the first of three key challenges that online retailers face, which I’d like to outline here:
- Mobile Shopping
Nowadays, about two thirds of all online purchases in Germany are made via mobile devices such as a smartphone or a tablet. Unlike PCs, a smartphone is always within reach for the customer. Merchants should leverage this constant presence and need to make consistent use of the opportunities that mobile commerce offers. Though, they should not transfer their desktop world to mobile devices. To benefit from this development as much as possible, merchants can’t expect the desktop experience to be simply transferred to mobile devices. The entire customer journey has to be adapted to mobile channels such as mobile shops. This includes both the display and payments. Make sure that the online shop is responsive, i.e. that it adapts to the small image format. A merchant’s own shopping app is well suited to this, for instance. After all, users spend far more time in apps than they do in mobile browsers – at least that was the conclusion of a study by Zalando. In addition, fast payment possibilities and purchase on account should be integrated into every offer.
- Social Shopping thanks to Influencers
In my view, triggered or accompanied shopping over social platforms like Facebook or Instagram still has a lot of potential – even though the trend is much slower than anticipated. Keep in mind that these channels are used in particular to inform yourself about the products before shopping. But it poses its own challenges, which each merchant needs to consider. For example, influencer marketing is steadily growing in significance – therefore, the relevant personalities are key. There are several aspects that make selling with the help of an influencer attractive:
- Instagram will allow influencers to tag certain products („Shopping from Creators“).
- The sales process then takes place within the Instagram app.
- Companies can sell their products directly on Instagram.
In general, social networks are excellent for increasing the number of touchpoints and enhancing the brand experience. Particularly positive for small and medium-sized merchants is that they do not need their very own app, but can instead show presence and increase brand awareness on social media with relatively low effort.
Facebook as a sales promoter
One thing is for sure: Those who don’t use social media properly will have an extremely hard time in the future. 90 percent of online shop operators in Germany use social networks to widen their reach. This also includes Facebook. Companies with a Facebook Business Page should set up a Facebook shop. This will enable users to complete purchases directly on Facebook. Ideally, companies should operate a Facebook-compatible e-commerce platform (Shopify, BigCommerce) that can be synchronized with the shop. Alternatively, categories and products can be created manually.
- Taking competition from Asia seriously
For years, little attention was paid to Asian e-commerce players. Today, the situation has radically changed. Many providers are successfully entering the European market. And they no longer just offer cheap products or knock-offs of familiar brands. They’re serious companies that understand, address and actively shape trends. They’re experts in mobile commerce and have a distinct customer focus. Plus, they have access to a gigantic domestic market that is not only the source of many goods but also provides considerable scaling advantages in procurement, logistics, IT and more. European and American merchants can’t afford to dismiss these not-so-new competitors any longer.
The challenges associated with these developments can already be seen very clearly today. It’s all about devising the optimal strategy. In the next articles in our e-commerce series, I will highlight some of them.