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The future of customer engagement is mobile e-commerce: what your brand can do to prepare

As e-commerce continues to evolve, brands need to be innovative in how they engage with mobile customers. With 79% of all online retail sales projected to be completed via smartphones by 2021[1], brands need to deliver more mobile-friendly experiences, as well as find consistent communication channels to remain relevant.

Meanwhile, technology is inspiring brands to create the next generation of commerce, such as new email automation software that enables a high level of personalisation and engagement, which contributes to the overall omnichannel experience. With this in mind, here are four tips on how brands should prepare for and utilise mobile e-commerce.

  1. Ensure that emails and websites are mobile-friendly

Nothing is more frustrating for a potential customer than browsing a website or opening an email with banners, links, and landing pages that display incorrectly or don’t work at all on mobile devices.

With 50 percent of all emails being read on mobile devices in Australia[2], it’s imperative that all email communications are mobile-friendly and suitable for the smaller screen. In fact, 68% of Australians have reported abandoning their online purchases due to frustrations with the online shopping experience[3]. APAC has the highest rate worldwide, with 76.3% of all online shopping carts being abandoned[4].

Even the best email marketing strategies combined with a great website won’t have any effect if the recipient cannot display them properly on their mobile devices. As the vast majority of online sales will soon be completed on a smartphone, a mobile application and landing page separate from the desktop version should be developed and tailored for mobile users. Any extensive graphics or videos that would increase loading times should be minimised to streamline a shopper’s browsing experience.

  1. Utilise data for personalization

Contemporary customers have the digital world at their fingertips and are spoiled for choice when it comes to online retailers. In order to stand out from the competition, marketing messages and online journeys need to be tailored and personalised for the individual customer. Irrelevant and generic messaging will not only fail to engage the reader, it will also have a detrimental effect on the brand.

Businesses can collect and utilise vast data sets for actionable insights on their customers, allowing them to use email segmentation and automation effectively. Proper segmentation will enable a business to differentiate and specify the message that it wishes to convey. Subsequently, segmentation of customers will ensure that delivered messages are personalised and relevant. Implementing personalised merchandising based on unique customer profiles will also help to boost up sales and build brand loyalty. 

  1. Engage customers with quality email content

Some businesses are still under the impression that email should only consist of announcements of the latest promotions as they are the most likely to result in a sale. While there is certainly a place for targeted promotional messaging, emails with quality thought-leadership content have been proven to be great at engaging customers. Such emails add value and credibility to the company’s offering. This is particularly important as international competitors look to disrupt established markets with cheaper products.

Creating how-to guides, expert opinion, and post-purchase surveys will enrich the customer’s online experience. While there may not be immediate returns, such content will help establish a genuine relationship with the customer whilst reinforcing the brand’s position as an industry expert.

A good example of effective transactional emails can be seen in Amazon’s delivery notifications. From the commencement of the purchase until the product arrives at the customer’s front door, there is a constant stream of communication from Amazon about its progress. Not only does this promote transparency between the company and its customer, it also establishes Amazon’s trustworthiness and reliability as a brand.

Such strategies will play a significant role as Amazon enters the Southeast Asia and Australian markets. Having launched in Singapore earlier this year, Amazon’s battle with Alibaba’s Lazada symbolises a new era of e-commerce, as these two retail giants look to dominate the overseas market. Regardless of the victor, there will be many changes and disruptions to the traditional ecommerce market.

  1. Orchestrate Channels for Omnichannel Experience

Many retailers strive to implement an omnichannel experience, but find difficulty doing it right. The challenge they face is creating a seamless and connected experience across their bricks-and-mortar stores, mobile application and website, and then strengthening their brand strategies for each of the channels, making sure they don’t end up competing with each other.

A few important steps are often overlooked which connect all the retail channels and put the customer at the heart of the brand experience. Implementing tracking technologies that are able to collect customer data across each channel will help brands understand and create profiles for each individual they are serving. Subsequently, developing a system that allows channels to communicate with each other will make it possible to design a seamless shopping experience for customers.

One example of a company that has worked hard to achieve this is Kanmo Retail Group, which manages a portfolio of more than 70 brands across Indonesia, including Mothercare, Karen Millen, Coach, Justice and T.M. Lewin. Kanmo is currently operating 134 bricks-and-mortar stores, serving tens of thousands of customers monthly, but wanted to improve both their online presence and in-store experience.

Kanmo implemented a number of features to develop their omnichannel offering. They put their customers at the centre of the new system, introducing online appointment booking and purchasing, as well as a click and collect in store option. A mobile application was also developed to enhance the customer experience by letting customers scan barcodes to order in store and by implementing a beacon system to personalise in-store services.

The future of mobile e-commerce will inevitably cause a shift in customer behaviour. Email marketing automation, adopting an omnichannel approach and mobile-friendly design will play a crucial role in encouraging customers to engage more with brands. With these available tools and latest technologies in hand, brands are in an ideal position to create innovative and meaningful experiences for their customers.

About the author

Thai Son Nguyen is the CEO and co-founder of SmartOSC, an e-commerce solutions provider with over 350 specialists. The company has seen great success with many high-profile brands in the US, Europe and APAC markets including Priceline Pharmacy, eWAY, Nestlé, PayPal, and Lotte. Rohan Lock, Regional Director, APAC, dotmailer, co-authored this piece. 

[1] Forrester Data: Online Retail Forecast, 2016-2021

[2] IBM’s Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study (2016)

[3] PayPal: Rethink Payments (2017)

[4] Statista: Online shopping cart abandonment (2016)

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Thai Son Nguyen

Thai Son Nguyen

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