Posts tagged MBS Systems inSite
The following article was written by David Mielach, BusinessNewsDaily Staff Writer, for BusinessNewsDaily.com. He offers excellent advice on the next big trend in retail and why stores need to take notice now. View his full article here.
Small business owners looking for an opportunity to distinguish their business from larger competitors may want to start thinking about creating an in-store experience.
Consumers are utilizing multiple channels and resources to accommodate their shopping needs, yet 80 percent of retailers surveyed in new study said they are not training their staff to accommodate those needs. Those companies admitted their staff lacks training on how to handle showrooming, price matching and in-store requests for pickups. Additionally, those retailers said they have not prepared their workers to deal with customers who are highly educated about the products they are purchasing.
The survey polled 35 leading retailers, half of which were publicly traded companies. Companies that fail to take advantage of omnichannel opportunities — which blend smartphones, tablets, computers and other technologies into the shopping experience — are losing out to other retailers.
Just 18 percent of retailers in the United States said they have implemented a mobile point-of-sale system across their stores. Additionally, just 29 percent of retailers said they already have an in-store pickup system, but an additional 24 percent are planning to unveil a pickup program by the end of the year. Moreover, just 10 percent of respondents said they compensate their workers for their efforts with cross-channel sales.
“The seamless customer experience and speed of change, led by pure-play e-retailers such as Amazon, is setting a high bar for retailers operating both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channels,” said Antony Karabus, president of SD Retail Consulting, which conducted the research. “The pace of change to meet this high bar needs to accelerate as the pressure from these new competitors continues to grow.”
“The largest retailers must examine every customer touch point and how they play their part in creating that seamless customer experience,” he added. “For the minority of retailers who are successfully transforming their store environments, the rewards will be substantial.”
Omni-channel is future of retail and it’s time for your store to get started. MBS can help. From mobile POS devices to an e-commerce solution that allows for in-store pickup, our products and services are designed to be cross-channel. Talk with your MBS Representative to learn how we can help you stay ahead of the industry curve.
In the following excerpt, from the article Making Omni-Channel Retailing A Reality, the author, Michael Griffiths of MicrosoftDynamics, highlights the importance of creating a united system in today’s changing world of retail. See what Griffiths has to say below, then read the full article on Forbes.com for more information on how omni-channel retailing is impacting the industry.
Just about everyone in the business is talking about “omni-channel” retailing—an approach that transcends multi-channel retailing, to connect the web, mobile, and brick-and-mortar channels into a truly seamless customer experience. It’s what customers are coming to expect and, when done right, can provide sellers with greater visibility into customer behavior, allowing the retailer to understand (and influence) the customer journey across channels.
The key to succeeding in omni-channel retailing is understanding the new role of the store: the central representation of your brand. This means that no matter which channel the customer is using to reach you—brick and mortar, online, or mobile—your customers see your store as a single, transparent system rather than multiple channels with separate inventory, processing, and delivery systems.
The combination of multiple channels, markets, and devices highlights the most significant challenge of all: real omni-channel execution and insight in a world of applications that were not built to work together. How can retailers take advantage of additional channels, emerging markets, and new opportunities for growth when traditional business applications just aren’t up to the task?
Omni-channel retail may sound like a challenge, but offering your customer a seamless experience across channels, is easy with the help of MBS. Our POS, e-commerce solution, mobile application, accounting, analytics, text management applications and more are all tightly integrated, so you can create a cohesive customer experience with little effort. Talk to your MBS Systems Sales consultant about the solutions we offer and how we can help your store go omnichannel.
The following excerpt, from the article 5 easy ways to please your brand’s mobile audience, was written by Kevin Allen, editor for Imagination Publishing, and published on PR News Daily. View the full article for more tips to optimize your students’ mobile experience.
People are consuming our content through handheld devices, yet it’s likely that the content they’re consuming isn’t optimized for mobile consumption.
Here are a few tips to help change that:
Be much more thoughtful about when you’re posting
The average Facebook post gets 50 percent of its reach and engagement in the first 30 minutes of being posted, according to Socialbakers. It’s all downhill from there.
Start asking yourself: Where is my audience going to be in the hour or so after we post this? Is there an opportunity to capture them where they are at that moment and inspire action or tap into an emotion that you know a large number of your fans are experiencing at that time?
Don’t limit it to experimenting with when you post, either. If you have an assumption about where your audience is consuming your content (specifically, where they are on Earth), you can create some calls to action and inspire them to engage that way.
For instance, Instagram, where the mobile engagement is close to 100 percent (unless your fans are Statigr.am savvy), is great for this: “Show us what you’re doing now and how our product fits into that.”
Add value to the mobile experience—which differs from adding value to the desktop or laptop experience
The greater the distance you make your fans travel in mobile, the worse the experience becomes. No one wants to hop from one app to another—to another—to download your app that, let’s be honest, isn’t all that cool in the first place. On a desktop or laptop, people are more forgiving when it comes to bouncing around the Web. You have to be more respectful of the mobile experience.
Similarly, if you’re in the Facebook or Pinterest app and you click on a brand’s link, it’s going to send you to a website. Unless you’ve checked that link in social, you’re not 100 percent sure where you’re sending them. It might look great on your laptop, but on mobile it could look like a Geocities site and do your brand a huge disservice.
Keep your posts simple and undeniably specific to your brand.
Design for mobile first
Keep your font sizes legible on your graphics. If you’re tapping through to a photo, you don’t want to have to zoom in on something just to read it. If you’re taking the time to design an asset, make sure you’re taking the time to design it so that mobile users can read it.
The default has been to design social assets for the desktop or laptop experience and back into mobile. Reverse that. Design for mobile, and it will back into the desktop experience.
Check out more tips from Allen by viewing the full article. MBS Systems inSite includes a customizable mobile site as part of the base functionality for no additional fees. Don’t forget to talk to your MBS Client Representative about how we can make navigating your website via phone or tablet easy!
The ninth-seeded Shockers kept the country on the edge of their seats this season as they advanced to the Final Four with four wins, one over top-seeded Gonzaga and one over second-seeded Ohio State. And in their first Final Four since 1965, they had the Cardinals fighting hard for a win.
Although their unbelievable run unfortunately came to an end before the championship, the team remains victorious in the eyes of their fans – several of whom have been cheering them on from the Wichita State University Bookstore.
“It has been a tremendous experience for all of us as a staff, and we couldn’t be more proud of the team,” explained Andrea Stipp, assistant director. “We were busier than we’ve ever been, and a week later, I think we’re all still recovering.”
To keep fans supplied with merchandise for each stage of the tournament, the store has been working around the clock for weeks. And, their customers have certainly taken notice. Sales have spiked both online and in-store with orders for merchandise still pouring in, despite the fact that the team is no longer competing.
The initiative kicked into high gear when the Shockers reached the Sweet Sixteen, according to Stipp.
“We utilized local vendors for the majority of our t-shirts so we could take advantage of a quick turnaround time,” she said. “Many early mornings were spent making the three hour drive to Kansas City or Lawrence to pick up t-shirt orders. It worked out great though because we could have our merchandise available in-store within two hours of opening on the day after a win.”
Social media played an essential role in promoting each new t-shirt design as the team advanced through the tournament. By updating the estimated time of arrival for new merchandise on the bookstore Facebook and Twitter accounts, they created hype and had a line of fans waiting to make a purchase each time the new shirts arrived.
“We also teamed up with the Rhatigan Student Center Marketing Department who helped us cross-promote our new products and generate a buzz,” she added.
Their real secret weapon, however, was the ability to sell merchandise online. With the help of MBS Systems inSite, their web store was easily updated and able to handle a large amount of traffic.
“A lot of the sports memorabilia stores in Wichita don’t have an online presence, so it really gave us an advantage,” Stipp explained. “We saw a 1000% increase in online orders compared to our average monthly web sales and we’re still receiving quite a bit, even now.”
inSite’s easy management allowed the store to add merchandise to their website ahead of time and simply ‘unhide’ it once their team had progressed through another round. In fact, during the Final Four, there was a point in time when shirts were selling out just as fast as the merchandise was revealed.
“We shipped packages to Asia, the Middle East, South Africa; literally all over the world. It was phenomenal,” she described. “inSite was critical in helping us gain sales. If we didn’t have an online presence, we really would have been behind the eight ball.”
Beyond sales, the store was also able to extend superior customer service to their students throughout the process, establishing loyalty that will last long after the tournament. For instance, several fans who had headed down to Atlanta for the Final Four game called the store with last minute requests for flags that had been forgotten at home or sweatshirts that they just had to have.
“inSite was instrumental in allowing us to fulfill last minute orders to our fans who were across the country,” she said. “We were able to overnight merchandise to them in time for the game and they were just ecstatic.”
Online orders also cut down on in-store traffic, offering an improved shopping experience.
“No one likes waiting in a line, so we utilized inSite to offer store pickup to our students,” she explained. “They simply ordered and paid for their merchandise online and picked it up in store. Everyone enjoyed the convenience and the fact that they avoided the hassle of dealing with a crowd.”
The store also delivered shirts to their satellite campus locations, to ensure all students had a chance to show their Shocker pride.
“We know the majority of those students are working adults, and that they may not have time to drive to our store for an order, so we wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out,” Stipp added. “We saw a huge increase in sales at these locations and they were very appreciative.”
In fact, the store even welcomed their rivals with open arms through a t-shirt trade in promotion. Because many Wichita residents sport Kansas University and Kansas State University apparel on a daily basis, the campus’ Student Center partnered with the store to increase Shocker pride on campus. So, anyone who brought in KU or K-State apparel was offered $3 off their WSU Final Four shirt.
“It became a one of a kind experience for many,” Stipp said. “We had several students tell us how excited they were to shop for their first ever Shocker shirt; it was great!”
Throughout the tournament, the store spread the word about their in-store offerings and their website to thousands and thousands of people. Although the excitement brought with it long hours and extra labor, Wichita State University Bookstore thrived under pressure and scored big points with fans from around the world.
“I think it will impact our business for a long time to come,” Stipp said. “It’s sad to see it come to an end, but it was an incredible ride!”
And there’s always next season…
Besides buyback and rush, the holidays are one of the busiest seasons for college stores. Many market to current students with unique gift items and logoed apparel but, two years ago, The College Store at Hobart and William Smith Colleges decided to reach beyond the campus population by advertising to alumni, parents and other non-student demographics, too.
Working with their Communications department, the store created an e-catalog of popular holiday items, featuring an equitable distribution of merchandise aimed at both of the colleges they serve. The one page digital flyer was distributed to over 14,000 emails and, according to director Lucille Smart, business skyrocketed.
“In the first year of the promotion, we nearly doubled our inSite sales for the month of December,” she explained. “Most of the orders were for multiple units, too, so it was great. The strategy really grabbed the recipients’ attention, and was especially effective with alumni.”
Plus, this year, sales grew an additional 10 percent with the addition of a new strategy to the e-catalog promotion. Working with her inSite Client Representative, Smart was able to extract a list of email addresses for current customers who had opted-in to store communications and send them the digital flyer, as well.
“The response was just tremendous,” she said. “We had tons of orders coming in for at least three days after the e-catalog was sent.”
With orders pouring in through the store’s inSite page, the staff that fulfilled mail orders quickly became overwhelmed with work. Because buyback was also going on, they had several other duties to fulfill and space was limited.
To resolve the issue, Smart set to work creating a new process for web order fulfillment. With the help of her staff, she restructured the bottom level of the sales floor to make room for a second table where orders could be sorted and packed. Then, she made the executive decision to bring in her entire staff an hour before opening each day for the sole purpose of processing web orders.
“Each individual was assigned a task and also had a backup in case they were unable to come in or needed additional help,” she said. “By breaking the process into steps, we were able to streamline fulfillment and create a type of assembly line.”
The different tasks included printing the order, pulling the merchandise, approving the order, ringing the transaction, packing the order and, finally, shipping it. By following these stages, staff members were able to fulfill 25-30 orders before the store even opened.
“We would keep working until all of the orders were filled or the store opened,” she said. “It definitely relieved a lot of tensions; everyone was contributing to the process and working as a team. The feedback from staff members was very positive.”
To ensure that employees’ time was well spent, Smart adjusted her holiday hours based off sales the previous year, so that staff were only required to report early on days that were typically high traffic for web orders.
To make it more fun, she even brought in breakfast pizza and orange juice for everyone one morning.
“They really loved that!” she added.
Overall, the web fulfillment strategy worked so well that The College Store will continue to implement it in the future.
“It was a strategy born of necessity, as many things are, but it was so successful,” Smart said. “We absolutely plan to do it again next season.”
The following article, written by Ross Taylor, AP, and published on USAToday.com, is further proof that transparency is essential to success in today’s evolving retail industry. We have several solutions in place to ensure your students can access relevant pricing information from any location including our e-commerce product, inSite, price comparison tools and even a mobile app. Talk with your MBS Representative to learn how they can help your store stay competitive.
Target said Tuesday that its pledge to match prices of select online rivals this past holiday season is now a year-round promise.
The nation’s second largest discounter behind Wal-Mart Stores said it will match prices that customers find on identical products at top online retailers, all the time. The online list includes Amazon.com as well as the websites of Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Toys R Us and Babies R Us.
Target’s holiday price match program with online retailers began Nov. 1 and ended Dec. 16. Target is also making permanent its holiday offer of matching prices of items found at its stores with those on its website. And for the first time it will include products that are out of stock on Target.com.
The company’s stock price closed at a record $61.30 a share and was 0.7% lower in Tuesday trading.
The moves follow a disappointing holiday shopping season for the Minneapolis-based retailer, hurt by stiffer competition from online rivals and stores like Wal-Mart that have hammered its low prices.
It’s also the latest step from brick-and-mortar stores to combat “showrooming” — a growing trend for customers to browse their stores to check out products, and then go online to buy the same products for less elsewhere.
Mark Schindele, Target senior vice president of merchandising operations, noted the discounter monitors prices of 30,000 items, and thousands more online, to make sure it’s competitive. But Target says it had to do more to give shoppers more confidence.
“We believe that our prices are competitive year round,” Schindele said in an interview. “We also know that our guests shop in many ways.”
Many major stores have offered price matching guarantees for local competitors’ brick-and-mortar stores, but it wasn’t until this past holiday season that the focus was on matching online prices. That can be difficult, since online prices tend to be lower and fluctuate often.
Best Buy is matching prices with 20 online retailers on electronics and appliances at its physical stores through Jan. 31. Best Buy spokeswoman Amy von Walter declined to “speculate” on whether it would make that plan permanent.
Since last summer Toys R Us has been matching online prices for all identical items or models of baby gear merchandise from selected national competitors like walmart.com, target.com, sears.com, Amazon, buybuybaby.com and diapers.com. Like Target’s policy, it excludes Amazon’s third-party Marketplace items.
Wal-Mart has trumpeted its low price message but stopped short of matching prices with online rivals.
Joel Bines, managing director and co-head of the retail practice at AlixPartners, praised recent moves by retailers to have an online policy.
“Retailers have finally gotten the message,” he said. “You can’t put an impediment between consumers and consumption.” But he said that the policies can backfire. Stores have to make it easier for shoppers to get the price match. And he noted the move could also turn out to be “profit draining” as more people are encouraged to shop the Web to get the lowest price.
Bines and other analysts say the online price match policies are also tough to implement given the constant fluctuation of online prices, even in the same day. That was particularly evident around Thanksgiving week. From Nov. 19 to Nov. 30 Amazon.com doubled the average number of promoted products it changed prices on each day compared with the same period a year ago, according to Dynamite Data, which tracks online prices.
Still, having a price match policy in place is essential for cheap chic Target, analysts say. The discounter, known for selling trendy merchandise and staples like toothpaste under the same roof, has seen uneven sales growth since the economic downturn as it tries to convince frugal shoppers it has good prices. This past holiday season, Target chose to limit promotions to preserve profits. That resulted in muted sales in November and December. However, Target expects fourth-quarter earnings to meet or possibly top the low end of its previous outlook.
As for the holiday price match plan, Schindele noted that shoppers like the plan. Price matches may be requested at Target’s guest services desk prior to purchase, with proof of an online competitor’s current price or after purchase with the original Target receipt and proof of the lower online price.
“This has been a seamless experience,” Schindele said. “There have been a lot of positives.”
By now, you’ve probably heard of Pinterest, the fastest growing social media network in history. Pinterest currently has more than 20 million users and is the third most visited social network, right behind Facebook and Twitter. Because Pinterest is a “virtual pinboard” that lets its users organize, share and discover the things they love online, it’s a perfect fit for retailers, both online and offline. Many brands and retailers are already on Pinterest and seeing more traffic, more sales and more engagement from their community. In fact, a study from BizRate.com shows that nearly one in five Pinterest users have made a purchase as a result of discovering a product on Pinterest. If you haven’t already, today may be the day to get on Pinterest and start using it to drive more traffic to your online store.
Set-up up your store’s Pinterest profile and start sharing in less than 5 minutes
Your Pinterest user profile allows you to describe your business in 200 characters, so make each one count. Because Pinterest is the most personal social network, followers like to know who is posting the pin they love, so you might want to use this space to list your Pinterest posters. Help Pinterest users find you fast by using keywords that your target customers are likely to search in both your profile description and your pin descriptions. Choose an avatar that is easily identifiable to your customers when small.
Once you’re set-up, it’s time to make the most of your Pinterest account. Here are seven ways to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your store:
Showcase your store: Users visit your online store to browse, but they visit Pinterest to dream. Sharing your products’ images will help you get started, but to truly engage your followers you need to offer something more. Share photos of your products in use. This can mean asking your staff to model the apparel you sell or images of your kitchenware products being used to whip up breakfast. Don’t forget to link these photos to their product pages to help customers find what they’re looking for quickly.
Build theme boards: Build boards that link to the theme of your store to get users thinking about using your products themselves. For example, if sporting goods are your expertise, build a board of your favorite all time sports heroes, or ask your followers to help you curate a board of their favorite sports greats—their kids.
Share a skill: One of the major reasons Pinterest users say they spend so much time on the site (the average is 405 hours per month!) is because they want to learn something. Share your knowledge and earn new followers by posting a tutorial related to your industry.
Post a price: Social media experts are still undecided as to whether posting a price on your Pinterest product photos encourages or discourages clicks. Find out what works for your followers by doing an A/B test. Post half of your product photos with prices and half without. Use an analytic tool like Pinerly to track clicks for a month to see what motivates your followers.
Early birds love Pinterest: Everyone loves to be first to see something new. Share up-coming arrivals to your store with your Pinterest fans first to get them excited about next season’s stock. Share the link to sign up for your store newsletter with these pins so users can be sure to receive notification when your new stock is ready to go.
Leverage your blog: Images with text perform well on Pinterest, so try to create at least one unique blog image per week to share on Pinterest. Use a key call-to-action phrase from your blog post in the image, and then share it on Pinterest with a link back to your blog. There are plenty of free image design apps online that can get you started, like Picmonkey.com.
Team-up: Find other independent retailers who share your target market, but not your product, and team up to curate a few pinboards. Choose a theme the works for both stores, and use the boards to build room decorating ideas, tips or just a collection of beautiful products sold by independent retailers.
Keep these tips in mind as you showcase your store on Pinterest and you’ll already have an advantage. On Pinterest, you can build something special that the big companies can’t do as easily, namely, shape your social media strategy to express your store’s personal style. When you let your creativity and that of your Pinterest followers run free, you’ll earn new interest, buzz and the sales that go along with it.
Creating a high-traffic e-commerce strategy is like diversifying an investiment portfolio. You must try to attract customers from a number of different online angles.
Here are some relatively simple and inexpensive ways you can increase online traffic to your e-commerce business and capture more customers — and more profits!
1. Use Relevant Keywords in Website Content
Search engines account for approximately 35 percent of referral traffic to e-commerce websites. Think of 3 to 5 words that customers use to search for your product. Keywords often include the product category, brand name, and model. Make sure that these keywords appear in your product description and your meta tags to raise your search ranking and increase search engine referral traffic.
MBS Tip: MBS Systems inSite makes it easy to add keywords to your website. Talk with your Client Representative to learn more!
2. Start a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Campaign
Advertise your business on major search engines and social networks. Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Facebook all offer pay-per-click programs that display your ad to potentially interested users. Google Adwords is the largest pay-per-click network, so start there.
3. Create Interesting, Educational Website Content
In addition to Web content that promotes your product or service, create educational articles that provide real value to readers, even if there is no immediate connection to driving a sale. This online strategy can be used for almost any business. For example, if you are in the mortgage business, consider creating a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page that answers common mortgage questions. If you own a landscaping business, provide a few useful tips for lawn care and maintenance.
Educational content creates goodwill with potential customers, and it is likely to be linked to by other websites, which will help your overall online presence. Be sure to include your keywords in the title and body of the text.
MBS Tip: We offer lots of free educational resources you can distribute to students. For instance, check out the flyers we created regarding buying and selling textbooks in our June Marketing Plan! Simply click each image to download.
4. Enable Customer Reviews
Consider dedicating a portion of each product page to user-generated reviews. Allowing customers to interact with the site means it is updated more often and listed higher on organic searches. To optimize your reviews for Google, make sure your programming does not put reviews in iFrame HTML coding, as Google cannot index that information.
MBS Tip: MBS Systems inSite allows you to easily integrate this feature into your website. Talk with your Client Representative to learn more!
5. Write a Blog
Ask company managers to write about industry topics, new products, and their expertise. A good blog will create referral traffic when the link is posted on social media or other blogging sites. Make sure to include a comments field to promote user-generated content.
MBS Tip: Take a look at how other college stores are using their blogs to communicate with customers to spark ideas for your own site. Some great examples include Tiger Bookstore, University Bookstore, Wildcat Store, University Store, OTC Bookstore and The Skidmore Shop.
6. Rewrite Product Descriptions
E-commerce sites that sell products should write creative product descriptions. Do not use generic, cookie-cutter copy. If possible, every product should have a description that is unique, creative, and engaging. Search engines pick up new, original content and rank it higher on search results. Well-written product descriptions set you apart from your online competition.
7. Use Pinterest
Pinterest is among the top five social media sites for retailers. An e-commerce business can start an account and develop bulletin-style boards that post links to their own products and images or to articles that promote the company’s brand image. Pinterest drives traffic directly from the site and is ranked highly on search engines.
MBS Tip: Not sure what to share on Pinterest? Follow us for easy repin ideas!
8. Create an App
Investing in the development of an iPhone, iPad, and Android app increases traffic by making your site accessible when customers are away from home. The technology company Conductor reported that e-commerce business from mobile phones increased 300 percent between 2009 and 2010. Your customers can create an account and buy products whenever they have a few minutes to shop.
MBS Tip: Put your store in the palm of students’ hands with our On The Go app. Watch a demo then talk to your MBS Representative for more information.
9. Optimize Your Images
Image searches are more popular than ever. Optimize each image that you put on your website. Name it with 2 to 3 keywords, place it in a keyword-rich product description, and include descriptive alt text, a kind of description that was developed for the visually impaired.
For a thorough explanation of how to do this, read How to Optimize Website Images for SEO.
10. Make Product Videos
Create informative videos of your products and post them to your site and a YouTube channel. E-commerce sites like Zappos.com have garnered high traffic with this practice. YouTube is owned by Google, so these videos rank highly on video searches.
For more on this topic, read our informative four-part series on video basics for your website, starting with Part 1 Web Video: The Pros and Cons for Your Business.
What other strategies do you use to drive traffic to your site? Share your tips and tricks in the comments section below!
Marketers are increasingly using mobile to drive both online and in-store revenue. However, with the bulk of mobile commerce coming in through applications and sites, marketers need to realize that there are key differentiators in how consumers shop on their mobile devices across both platforms.
In order to figure out which channel is best to use, marketers need to first tie their commerce initiatives to a strategic goal. Shopping habits also differ significantly from smartphones to tablets.
“Mindset precedes toolset,” said Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile, media and entertainment at ForeSee, New York. “The mindset of the customer visiting a tablet is decidedly different than a mobile phone visitor.
“According to our Mobile Satisfaction Index study, customer expectations and satisfaction are different between smartphone and tablet,” he said. “It’s a spectrum, with mobile on one side and the traditional PC Web experience on the other side. Tablets were once more closely aligned with the mobile experience. But what we’re seeing is that customers expect more of a fully optimized Web experience on their tablets – a full experience but tablet-optimized. Brands need to create a customer experience optimized for tablets rather than just pushing a regular Web site onto a mobile device because consumers expect more from a tablet than they do a smartphone.”
By the numbers
ForeSee recently released a report that looked at the top twenty retail mobile sites and apps and how they rank in customer service in its Mobile Satisfaction Index (see story).
The report found that 65 percent of mobile shoppers this holiday season are repeat consumers. Thirty-five percent of users are first-time mobile buyers.
Sixty-eight percent of shoppers in the study were on mobile sites while 32 percent were on apps. Although they represented a smaller number of consumers, the app users surveyed as being the most satisfied with their mobile shopping experience.
The data points to the mobile Web as attracting a larger amount of users. However marketers looking to retain users and increase loyalty might be better suited to an app.
Moreover, 37 percent of consumers in the study visited either a mobile site or app based on their familiarity with the brand, showing how consumers nowadays expect that their favorite retailers and brands have a mobile presence.
Shop on mobile
Another recent study from Javelin Research digs deeper into the shopping differences between mobile Web and app shoppers.
Javelin Research recently found some interesting differences between mobile Web and app shoppers in its “Mobile Payments Hit $20 Billion in 2012: Tablets Are Key to a Successful Retail Strategy” report (see story).
According to the study, commerce from mobile Web and apps will generate $20.3 billion out of the total mobile commerce market of $20.7 billion. This shows that despite the attention that mobile payments get, the real opportunity for mobile commerce right now still lies in apps and sites.
Per Javelin’s findings, app shoppers make an average of 2.5 transactions and spend $26 monthly. On the Web side, the average shopper made 2.54 purchases with a monthly spend of $37. Small items such as ringtones, paid apps and music attributed to the smaller app spend.
Additionally, the study found that 59 percent of consumers surveyed have used both a mobile app and site to buy.
Interestingly, 27 percent of mobile shoppers only buy through the mobile Web. Fourteen percent of consumers in the study only used apps to shop.
The figures show why it is important for brands to have both a mobile Web site and apps. The app sales most likely represent consumers who only download a few apps from their favorite brands onto their devices. These same users are shopping on the mobile Web though, too.
In order to capture the widest group of users, brands need to develop both mobile Web sites and apps.
“Mobile commerce should not be about native apps versus Web apps,” said Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine, founder/CEO of MobiCart, Newcastle upon Tyne, Britain. “It should be about offering the best possible experience to your customers on any mobile device. Retailers need to have a strategy for both options.”
Place your bets
After marketers understand how consumers shop, the next step is to set up mobile sites and apps to mimic the behaviors specific to each platform through merchandising.
“There are a number of layers to the way merchandising and product mix can be applied to a mobile shopping experience,” said Eric Newman, vice president of marketing and products at Digby, Austin, TX. “In many cases, retailers will choose to create a subset of their catalog specifically formulated for the mobile buyer – a simpler set of products to traverse on a small screen or a set of products most likely to be purchased by a mobile shopper for replenishment scenarios.”
For example, a mobile site might be better suited to push out best-selling products or the latest collections. On the other hand, apps can leverage a loyal user’s purchase history to serve up recommended products.
Location is also an important component to include in mobile commerce apps and sites. A simple store locator can help drive a mobile Web shopper to find the product in a bricks-and-mortar store while an app could track down store-specific inventory and offers.
“Unlike mobile Web, rich apps can proactively understand when a shopper visits a bricks-and-mortar store and that additional, real-time context opens up new possibilities for the retailer to engage that consumer in a meaningful way,” Mr. Newman said.
“In the online world, retailers understand everything about the customer when they visit the Web site — matching up their shopping history with their current interests based on the way they traverse the site,” he said. “This allows the retailer to tailor the experience for the shopper, offering up relevant cross-sells and informed promotions that make sense to that shopper. Rich apps’ knowledge of location allows retailers to realize that same rich context for physical bricks-and-mortar locations, targeting meaningful, one-to-one digital marketing and customer service tailored to both their shopping history and current behaviors as they visit a particular store or uses the app to scan a bar code in the store.”
Regardless of which is a better fit for your store, MBS can help! Our advanced e-commerce product, inSite, can easily be optimized for mobile devices and our new mobile app, On The Go, puts your store in the palm of students’ hands with price comparison, buyback look up, and more! Talk to an MBS Representative for more information.
A report this week from Forrester Research confirmed what just about everybody in business already knew: Americans are buying online and they are buying a lot.
The study reported that Americans spent more than $200 billion online in 2011 and projected that total would rise to $327 billion in 2016. The 2016 figure represents 9 percent of all retail sales (up from 7 percent in 2011).
Among the report’s interesting findings:
- 53 percent of Americans made an online purchase in 2011.
- 58 percent are expected to make an online purchase in 2016.
- People believe they get the best deals when shopping online.
- Tablet devices like the iPad have spurred online impulse buying.
If these stats don’t make you want to reevaluate your e-commerce efforts—and perhaps plan a redesign!—they should.
An attractive, well-organized website, with a back-end that functions seamlessly and a shopping cart that makes the purchasing process as easy and intuitive as possible will do wonders for your bottom line.
Ten years ago, building a quality e-commerce website was a highly expensive proposition. You had to hire an outside firm to do it. Today, businesses can use any number of open-source platforms to build a complex, yet relatively inexpensive e-commerce site.
But just because you can do it yourself, should you?
I say no. It’s too critical to your business not to get right. Granted, I work at a Web design firm, but hear me out.
These cookie-cutter websites that people are peddling for $1000 or less may be fine for some kid with a blog or a pizza parlor looking to put their menu and phone number online, but for most businesses, they just look cheesy.
Here’s the thing about cheap, template-driven websites: They look like every other cheap website out there. And that cheapens your brand. It makes you look like you don’t take your marketing and messaging seriously.
Custom designs are always going to cost more but the result is something you’ll never get from a generic template: a site that’s been designed to drive real business for you. That requires a team of people including an information architect, a designer, a front-end coder, a back-end developer, a quality assurance expert, and a project manager to coordinate all of the work.
But first, you must find the right design team. Look for one that understands your business and how to best promote your business online. When you are interviewing potential designers, make sure they can point to specific case studies of successful projects they have completed for other clients.
The design process should always start with a planning phase: That’s when your designer should demonstrate an understanding of your business, the competitive landscape, and the goals for the project.
This is followed by the design stage, where your team will map out the look and feel of the site and lay out the navigation and functionality requirements.
Finally, after all of the site specs are agreed upon, the front and back-end coding will begin. At this stage, the quality assurance process tests the site’s functionality across a variety of browsers.
It’s not a fast or cheap process. (And, by the way, it doesn’t end there: The next step involves driving traffic to it with sound marketing strategies.)
If you want to be in business, then you need to be online. But if you’re doing a bad job of it online, you have no business being in business in the first place.
Want to enhance your online presence? MBS Systems inSite could be the perfect option for your store. Our e-commerce solution provides everything you need to take your store to the Web, capture Internet sales, and defend against online competition.
Best of all, your store is assigned a dedicated representative who will work with you to build a website that meets your needs and fits with your brand image.
For more information, talk to your MBS Representative or email Systems@MBSbooks.com!