Now more than ever, mobile websites and smartphone apps are becoming the new “front door” for customers of many brick-and-mortar retail stores. And with good reason: this savvy, industry-wide pivot focuses on consumers’ preferences and how they’re most comfortable shopping – be it in-store, or online.
It’s still early days in this trend, and there’s plenty of best practices for the industry to still learn, but it’s clear that companies taking this customer-centric approach are seeing lifts both in-store, and online.
One thing’s for certain: “mobile-first” browsing isn’t going away. Mobile website traffic blew past desktop web traffic in 2014, and hasn’t looked back. Indeed, 75 percent of shoppers surf the mobile web during in-store shopping experiences. Amazingly, 25 percent of them buy products on their mobile devices while in-store.
Retailers are smartly adapting. Last year, many surveyed CEOs considered mobile/omnichannel retail to be a “high” or “top” priority, and 30 percent said they were increasing investments to improve it.
As retailers master this emerging technology, a related opportunity awaits: leveraging the power of localized mobile websites, smartphone apps, and desktop e-commerce sites to expand into new domestic and global markets.
By offering translated digital shopping experiences to mobile-first consumers, retailers can expand into new international markets and engage the underserved consumers there. They can also drive consumers to traditional stores. As AT Kearney recently wrote, “In many fast-growing emerging markets, the Internet is the safest, fastest way to get products from international brands.”
As your own company eyes new domestic and global markets, consider these trends that are impacting m-commerce and e-commerce on a global scale. My company has unique insight into these phenomena; we operate and optimize over 1,000 translated global websites for the world’s largest brands. These insights hail from our exclusive data.
Mobile and Tablets: An Amazing Combination
The genie’s out of the bottle: Mobile web traffic will continue to outperform desktop traffic for the foreseeable future. And that’s a good thing, since phones and tablets are powerful sales-engagement tools.
We’ve seen a remarkable rise of mobile and tablet traffic, transactions, and commerce in the global sites we operate. We recently examined the performance of five global e-commerce sites. Thirty-five percent all sessions to these sites hailed from mobile phones. Tablets brought in another 20 percent.
However, average conversion rates are about 115 percent higher on tablets, compared to mobile. Bounce rates are usually 5-10 percent lower on tablets, too. Our takeaway: users browse for products on their phones, but return to sites on their tablets to make purchases.
In a related study of several German retail sites we operate, we observed that tablet conversions are nearly 100 percent those of smartphones, and have been for years.
Launching mobile-friendly sites in global markets is critical for success. Providing mobile-friendly product photos and descriptions makes a huge difference, particularly if it helps shoppers make a buying decision later.
Recall that many consumers also browse on their phones, and then make purchases in-store. By providing a localized mobile experience that includes a Find A Store functionality, your company can easily direct these shoppers to regional brick-and-mortar stores—which will boost sales there, too.
Social Media: Fish Where the Fish Are
Thanks to the growing number of smartphone owners in mobile-first markets, social media adoption has skyrocketed in recent years. We examined six months’ worth of data from our localized sites and came away with some interesting findings:
- Traffic from Facebook grew by nearly 50 percent, elbowing out native social networks for dominance in most global markets.
- Traffic from Pinterest rose almost 25 percent. This coincides with Pinterest’s increasing user base in overseas markets, particularly in China, India and Indonesia.
- Twitter is in a troubling slump. Referral traffic plummeted nearly 30 percent. This jibes with Twitter’s recent announcements that it lost 2 million users during the last three months of 2015.
- Photo-based network Instagram now has more users than Twitter; we’re seeing more clients use this tool in global markets, with positive results.
We also noted strong referral traffic from Sina Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. Our clients that have integrated Sina Weibo (and other networks) functionality into their sites have seen a 30 percent lift in referral traffic from social users, and 10 percent increases revenue.
VK, originally VKontakte, a Russian social media platform that’s gaining ground in Germany, has also boosted referral traffic to our localized websites.
And remember, localized digital marketing efforts need not only serve your global e-commerce efforts. Those resonant social marketing messages can always steer consumers to brick-and-mortar stores, as well.
Study Seasonality in Global Markets
Global e-commerce sales generally slump in the summer, and rally in the fourth calendar quarter. But companies armed with a knowledge of unique seasonality and spending peaks in international markets can promote products and generate sales they’d otherwise miss.
To supercharge global sales in off-seasons, invest effort in diagnosing any causes for sales slumps, and bolster your online endeavor with smart marketing. Our studies find that e-mail outreach is especially engaging for international shoppers. Last year, one of our clients saw nearly half of its single-day holiday revenue hail from a localized e-mail campaign.
Flash sales are another way to invigorate your most faithful global consumers, and direct them to your sites.
“The point is to run flash sales for your regular customers,” a contributor to Ecommerce Platforms recently wrote. “If 1,000 people are browsing on your site, you have a large chance of selling out of a product if you offer them a flash sale popup. The urgency is often too much to pass up.”
Finally, seasonality-related market intelligence is valuable in developing inventory stocking strategies in your global brick-and-mortar stores.
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