Mobile Retail: How to Make Sure You're Ready for the Future

The Internet and mobile devices have forever changed the way consumers shop. Now that most Americans have a smartphone in hand at all times, the shopping experience is happening in both the sofa and the store. Instead of researching before leaving the house, customers can compare prices and learn more about products all while standing in front of the very items they're considering buying. Yet according to a report from Accenture, many businesses fail to meet customers' expectations when it comes to their mobile experiences.

How does a business create a seamless shopping experience between mobile and in-store without sacrificing quality in other areas? Here are a few ways you can improve your store's mobile shopping experience to better serve your customer base.

Make Checkout Easy

In the Accenture report, customers repeatedly mentioned the checkout process as an area that needs improvement. When patrons are completing checkout on a tiny smartphone screen, it can be frustrating to be asked for credit card information or a shipping address. They should not be required to go through the arduous task of setting up an account, complete with a password and secret questions, just to make a purchase. Enable "checkout as guest" on your online store and, for those who choose to register, give the option of securely saving payment and shipping information to make the mobile checkout experience easier.

Focus on Omni-Channel

Customers also said the experience between mobile, in-store and online isn't seamless enough. Businesses should strive for an omni-channel shopping experience that combines the online and in-store experiences into one great experience for customers. A shopper should be able to make a purchase online, for instance, and return it to the store without penalty. Customers should also be able to order an item online that is out of stock in store, then have that item shipped to the store for pickup without a shipping charge. The more seamless the experience is, the more likely a customer is to convert.

Get Feedback

The best way to learn whether your mobile store is working for customers is to ask them. One way to do this is to ask for feedback on the experience as a final step of checkout. Many customers will skip this step, so you may find it necessary to hire a user experience expert or conduct user testing to highlight issues with your site that may be scaring customers away. You can also use analytics to constantly monitor your pages and determine problem areas like broken links or malfunctioning buttons.

Mobile retail is a large part of online shopping and product research. To remain competitive, business owners should make sure they are creating a seamless experience for customers as they move from store to mobile and back again. When patrons feel they can shop in a variety of ways, they are more likely to become repeat customers and refer others to your business.