According to an IMRG report from February 2015, visits to ecommerce sites via smartphone and tablet devices account for 45% of all ecommerce traffic in the UK. In fact, visits to retail websites via mobile devices have recently overtaken desktop traffic for the first time.
The latest generation of smartphones and tablets (especially the iPhone and iPad and the rapidly increasing range of Android devices) now offer a user experience that is far superior to anything that was available before and this is helping to drive the trend. The number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion in 2016, according to new figures from eMarketer, representing over a quarter of the global population.
But while mobile devices are becoming more popular in general, customers are also showing that they like to switch between different purchase channels depending on where they are and what they happen to be doing.
So, for example, some people may go online on their PC at lunchtime at work to do some basic research, look for reviews on comparison websites, compare prices and maybe check opinions on social media, but then when they do finally decide to buy, they may do it on their iPad at home one evening while watching television.
On the one hand, having so many channels is great for retailers as it increases the number of ways that people can spend their money, but the down side is that it also makes it a lot easier for customers to switch between vendors, forcing businesses to look more closely at their customer retention strategies. And as we all know, retaining a customer costs a lot less than acquiring a new one.
So companies are looking for solutions that persuade existing customers to become repeat buyers because one customer purchasing regularly twice a month is far better than one brand new customer who has bought once and is maybe undecided about doing it again from the same place.
Part of a company’s customer retention strategy should be giving customers what they want, when they want it and with the minimum of fuss. Sounds obvious I know, but you’d be surprised how many retailers struggle to create a consistent and customer-centric experience across all their channels.
And that’s where predictive analytics comes in because it was developed out of a need to personalise customer experiences on desktop and mobile platforms. Predictive analytics can extract information from both structured and unstructured data, look for trends and behaviour patterns and then use it to predict likely activities. Data analytics has always been important of course, but it has often failed to answer the question ‘how can analytics be used to increase sales?’
Wouldn’t it be great to put these two trends together – the growth in mobile ecommerce and the growth in predictive analytics – to create a set of apps and tools that enabled companies to enhance their existing mobile solution with predictive, omnichannel experiences?
Anything that can help you develop a 360º view of your customer and optimise their behaviour and preferences every time they interact with your company can only be a good thing.
Then when a customer needs to escalate from the mobile app to a Customer Service Representative (CSR), they can call or chat (via mobile chat) from within the app knowing that their context – that is, their past browsing or purchasing history, preferences and so on - will have already been made available to the agent. The agent will also be able ‘guess’ what their query might be, based on where the customer is in the customer journey. So pre-sale queries might include questions about the weight and material of the product, while post-sale queries might include how to use the product or how to return it.
This sort of approach is a win-win for both sides. The customer will receive a quicker, more efficient service, with the minimum of effort, while at the same time, the company will have more satisfied and loyal customers who are less likely to switch to competitors plus a more cost efficient operation because of the reduction in human agents and the increase in self-service.