2014 is, as predicted by many, gearing up to be the year when retailers’ investment in mobile channels really starts to take off, especially tablet devices, which now account for 85%+ of all mobile sales. Here at Silverbean we decided it’s well worth keeping a close eye on what some of the biggest names in the UK retail industry have been doing, as the most innovative and successful developments by the thought-leaders on mobile will no doubt trickle down to smaller brands as well as across into other industries.
Late last year Topshop was named by the public as the best site for the consumer experience on tablets. Praise was heaped upon the retailer for its intuitive search bar, log-in capabilities and shopping basket function. The site’s display was also rated highly, especially the way it tailors content to individual visitors. It was noted that the brand’s ad campaigns were proving a good funnel to the mobile site, indicating where Topshop believes the future of retail is. In fact about the only area it was criticised was for a lack of trust elements, such as SSL branding or testimonials, on the homepage.
They’ve also delivered live streaming of London Fashion Week direct to the iPhone app, and a unique “scan to buy” technique, using the app’s “barcode scanner” device at the launch of a new limited edition line to give customers a true cross-channel experience.
Argos are a company known for having leapt on to the boom in mobile and how it can be incorporated into the purchase process very quickly. The chain had a 600% rise in mobile visitors in 2010 which was the prompt to first build a mobile app, and then a site fully-optimised for mobile devices. They took advantage of mobile sales channels as a way to exploit their unique selling point, which is a vast range of products and a similarly large network of UK stores. Their strategic development director has spoken of the requirement to align all channels equally, but use the unique capabilities of mobile to differentiate. This channel was accounting for 10% of all company sales last autumn and will no doubt be higher still in this year’s results.
The number of pioneering functions the Argos site features are too many to name, but some included the way live stock information on the user’s top 3 stores is delivered instantly to product pages; links to special offers appearing when certain products are selected; same-day delivery from over 200 of its nationwide stores, enhancing the role of bricks ‘n’ mortar, and one-click reservation, streamlining the buying process.
The luxury high-street retailer has had a great few years, and its mobile site has contributed to that significantly to the point where it is now discussed in every business decision. Their particular focus continues to be in bringing in-store customers online, and vice versa, saving delivery costs and offering a smoother customer experience. In 2013 the brand reported that 42% of its online traffic is now driven by mobile, and that there had been a 115% increase in tablet sales.
Recent innovations include trialling mobile point-of-sale over Christmas 2013 when customers could fill a basket online then pay at the physical till; offering free in-store charging for mobile devices, and mapping their Oxford Street flagship store on Google Street View so that customers can browse the aisles to build a virtual shopping trip. Their mobile site has been criticised by some users for being a little buggy, but also praised for its detailed product information, as well as the way a very clean aesthetic can help maintain brand identity.
Marks & Spencer
The fortunes of M&S have fluctuated wildly over the last decade to much press attention, but one area they’re really getting things right is in mobile. The brand is clearly fully-invested now in the concept of multi-channel shopping and the additional value it creates, and mobile is clearly getting a lot of attention from their developers.
Some highlights from their mobile app include a very smooth navigation; regularly-updated (every 15 minutes) stock levels, next-day click ‘n’ collect, and a check-out that automatically defaults to the nearest store. Browse-and-order hubs are available in some stores, and it’s not uncommon to see sales assistants wandering around with tablets now instead of catalogues for advice.
And finally……….Let’s just take a quick look at the UK’s biggest supermarket chain too since their contribution to mobile developments can’t be ignored. They’re making good use of all the customer data they’ve collected through their Clubcard scheme to tailor content, and they’re also seeking to dramatically improve the way their click ‘n’ collect scheme works, alerting both stores and customers about order readiness through passive geolocation to reduce wait-times.
Excellent site navigation makes shopping easy already, but the retail giant is also planning virtual-shops along the lines of what John Lewis is now offering within the next 12 months.
So there it is for our mini 2014 roundup of the ‘Mobile High Street’, we can be safe in the assumption that retailers are now continuing to innovate and solve as many problems as possible for their customers, making the customer experience as seamless as possible and in the process increasing brand loyalty & staying competitive in the market.
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