Success in mobile commerce requires a mobile-specific strategy

A distinct strategy for mobile e-commerce may or may not be the difference in success. In this post, I share a framework for creating a short- and long-term mobile strategy. Money, time and human capital are your most valuable resources. How you allocate each of these defines your strategy.

A distinct strategy for mobile e-commerce may or may not be the difference in success.

Goals and opportunities

E-commerce websites usually have goals for total revenue and growth. However, it is important to create mobile-specific goals as well. About half of e-commerce traffic now comes from mobile devices, according to Google. Thus, specific metrics for mobile – that is, conversions, bounce rates – are critical.

Start with your inputs. For most websites, the e-commerce platform and its impact on mobile is the most obvious entry. The platform's capacity will affect, for example, conversions.

Many companies have a list of mobile opportunities. But they never weigh opportunities against their goals. Here are the factors that I consider to be most important, in order:

  • Cost. How much will an opportunity cost in time and money?
  • Advantage. This is the most difficult to score but without doubt the most important. For example, a merchant may invest in a sophisticated e-mail platform but fail to evaluate how it will be stacked against major competitors. In my experience, e-commerce companies do not always rate their production (for example, e-mail marketing efforts) and are therefore disappointed when the opportunities do not reach the goals.
  • Priority. Once you have created a list of mobile opportunities, it is important to prioritize. I am a fan of prioritizing after impact. For example, if a project would produce 10% growth in conversions and another only 1%, the alternative is 10% a priority.
  • Dependencies. Whether a new opportunity is possible is often based on internal and external dependencies. For mobile devices, the two most unsuccessful dependents are users who choose location status and notifications. Think carefully about how likely your users would do either. For example, for Uber, opt-in prices for location status and notifications are close to 100 percent. For e-commerce sites, opt-in rates are close to 50 percent for larger sites and less for smaller ones.

Internal dependencies usually involve technical aspects. For example, your opportunity may depend on building a unique connection to a third party, such as connecting to vendor information or a chat dialog for your customer support agents. Be realistic about your company's ability to achieve this dependency.

Using data

Capturing data – quantitatively and qualitatively – is crucial for all mobile strategies. Begin with qualitative data. The easiest way is to talk to customers. Listening to or even answering calls about customer support can be a tax source of data to help you set priorities.

Ask two simple questions. "What did you expect to happen?" and "What can I do for you?" Both help you identify problems that your visitors are experiencing. Then confirm the problems with quantitative data.

Quantitative data is a bottomless pit. There is more information about your mobile visitors than you can shake a stick at. So start with qualitative data and use quantitative to confirm. For example, if smartphone users say they had trouble checking out after adding items to their shopping cart, review the rate of abandonment for mobile versus desktop. If the data from that review confirms the problem, move it to the top of the list.

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