What small business owner wouldn’t love to attract new customers? According Haresh Kumar, vice president of marketing for Moovweb, a mobile Web technology provider, this year offers a surefire way to do just that: go mobile.
"Mobile, the brightest shining light, is the fastest growing channel," Kumar told Small Business Computing. "No matter what size business, all of them are basically moving to mobile."
And while it might be tempting to chalk that up to biased marketing bluster, research explains why it's not.
According to a study (PDF), conducted by Google, the online search giant found that 82 percent of smartphone owners will check their phones—for info and pricing—when they're about to make a purchase at a store. While clutching their smartphones, 51 percent of shoppers discover a new product or a company when they're conducting a search. A third of smartphone owners bought from a brand other than the one they originally had in mind based the information they got from their smartphone right when they needed it.
The message is clear. Mobile devices not only join consumers on their shopping journey, they have a major effect on where buyers choose to spend their money.
Faced with this type of a marketplace, the absolute worst thing a small business owner can do is sit on the sidelines. Here are some mobile commerce trends to watch for—and to profit from—in 2016.
Top Mobile Commerce Trends for Small Business
See that person's nose buried in the iPhone? There's a good chance that Facebook, Twitter or another social media app is the cause. This year, those social media apps will also help drive purchases.
The connection between social media and mobile is already strong, and "social commerce will increasingly become more common," said Kumar. With the advent of social buy buttons, like the Buyable Pins that appear on Pinterest, businesses have yet another, highly engaging method of mobile consumers.
But not all purchases are created equal, warned Kumar.
Social buying lends itself to "in-the-moment shopping," he said. It's unlikely that consumers will add the big ticket items that cross their social media feeds. But, for example, a local sports team securing a spot at the playoffs, may spur ticket sales and demand for memorabilia, particularly when friends show an interest or declare their intention to attend events.
Put simply, you can make peer pressure work for you. "It's a social experience; your friends are going and you want to go, too," said Kumar. Be there to welcome them on social media.
Mobile Websites Beat Mobile Apps
It seems every retailer or service provider is rushing out to publish a branded app. As a small business, it's not worth the expense or the effort, said Kumar.
"Of the top 100 apps, only three are commerce apps: Amazon, Walmart, and Target," he said. Good luck competing against these retailing giants. Instead, focus on providing a good mobile Web and checkout experience.
In this case, being a small or niche retailer can work in your favor. Neighborhood shops and boutiques often have unique items that can't be found on the shelves of big box stores, and consumers are on the lookout. "Being unique excites that customer," said Kumar. Making those items discoverable on the mobile Web is one way to increase foot traffic and sales.
Mobile Moments Matter
Launching a website that renders well on smartphones is only part of attaining success in mobile commerce. Kumar suggests that small businesses tailor mobile storefronts based on the context that causes consumers to pull out their phones.
Mobile moments, whether they involve researching a product on the coffee line or using a store locator, are defined by the immediacy of the experience. Digging through complex site navigation is a surefire way to lose out on a mobile purchase.
Kumar points to 1-800-Flowers as a company that gets it. During Mother's Day, one of its most popular bouquets appeared on its mobile website, front and center. "In three clicks, you can buy that bouquet and send it to your mother," he said.
The key is to value your consumers' time and anticipate their needs when they arrive at your mobile site. "You already have that customer in your door," said Kumar. "Make sure you clear the lanes so they can check out."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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