Does it feel like everybody is making an app these days? That’s because mobile has completely reinvented the customer journey. Previous to the introduction of our hand-held companions, when searching for inspiration we got it from advertisements, we perused a catalog, or browsed online at home. Once in a store, if we needed information about an item we would ask the stores’ salespeople, cashiers, and fellow shoppers. Then we’d either buy our items in-store or online at home. That was the process.

The modern capabilities of today’s smartphones have completely disrupted that path. Now when people shop, their phones are their advisors, assistants, and guides. We look up ideas, reviews, and make decisions all from our mobile phones. Moreover, while physical retail foot traffic has declined, mobile queries for “near me” have nearly doubled in the past year, alone. It may not be perceptible, but we use our mobile devices at almost every stage of the buying process.

study by Deloitte revealed that by 2014, 49% of all in-store purchases had been affected by digital; with mobile laying claim to a solid 28% of that. The trick to locking down your customer’s attention is to be where they are when they need you: on their mobile phones.

Micro-Moments aka The Retail Moments That Get Attention

In basic terms, micro-moments for retailers mean this: be there, be useful. In today’s mobile-centric consumer landscape, it’s undeniably important for a store/retailer to be present whenever and wherever the shopper needs them. Retail micro-moments can be categorized into three broad stages:

  • The ‘I need some ideas’ moments.
  • The ‘which one is best?’ moments.
  • The ‘I want to buy’ moments.

With the whirlwind popularity of smartphones, being present on mobile is the key to answering your shoppers’ needs. Moreover, to captivate the truly tech-savvy consumer, leveraging new technologies such as AI-learning (artificial intelligence), location-based targeting, and even virtual reality experiences need to be trends that businesses embrace and utilize.

I Need Some Ideas

Most shoppers start their journey on their smartphone. However, they haven’t decided entirely on what brand they are looking for, yet. For the mobile-savvy retailer, this presents an excellent opportunity for a first impression. Forty percent of all shopping queries on Google start with broad category search terms like bedroom furniture, sports equipment, patio furniture. Think about the intent and the context of your customers; the intent is what they’re looking for, and the context is where they are and what mobile device they are using.

Focusing on visually stunning, targeted, mobile content will get your brand in front of the eyes of your potential customers, long before they ever step foot in your store. To even be considered, you need to show up. However, to be considered an industry leader and stand out; show your value to your customers before they need you. Location-based technology has been growing in leaps and bounds and can be used strategically to target your customers with deals and opportunities based on their geographical location. Having a flash sale at your store? Geo-targeted mobile push notifications can be an excellent opportunity to get your customer’s attention when they may have not been considering purchasing that day.

Which One Is Best?

Sometimes, shopping is completely impulsive. You see shoes in a store display, and five minutes later you own them. Alternately, you come across a great bargain online, and before your morning routine is over, you’ve made a new purchase. There’s nothing wrong with having these impulsive “treat yourself” moments. More often than not though, especially amongst the purchasing power of the Millennial generation, more time and consideration is being given to brands.

A study conducted by Google found that 90% of smartphone users “aren’t entirely sure of the specific brand they want to buy when they begin shopping.” In these micro-moments, they want options and information; they aren’t brand committed, yet. The use of AI-learning, to deliver custom customer recommendations in these moments can mean the difference between capturing a shopper’s attention, or missed opportunities to make a connection.

We love the idea of a digital assistant; with the introductions of Siri and Bixby, we dictate menial tasks to our phones and use these assistants to help navigate our days. So why wouldn’t intelligent apps be the next logical step? Be it for a virtual personal assistant, or a tool that prioritizes your email and highlights the most important and relevant content. Social Tech is also on the rise as a major player in the commerce game. Facebook Messenger integrated chatbots that give customer recommendations, and can also handle customer interactions, are the way the next generation of consumer is choosing to engage brands; and Facebook knows it.

This year’s F8 Conference brought promise of even more options for chatbot functionality withing Facebook Messenger. With the power of machine learning behind these chatbots, your bots can get to know your customer’s shopping preferences and make product recommendations wherever they are. Alternatively, why not set up a virtual reality experience that allows your customers to do things like try on clothing, attend an event, or train for a particular skill that they wouldnt have otherwise been able to.

I Want To Buy

This is the moment that everything’s been leading up to. This is the moment where the customer has chosen to buy what you’re selling. Although a vast majority of purchases still happen in a physical store, the percentage of mobile/digital purchases has been steadily growing. According to Deloitte, $0.64 of every dollar spent in retail stores was influenced by digital; particularly by mobile. In fact, the same study found that an impressive 76% of people that conducted a query for a local product, visited a business within 24 hours of their search, and 28% of those people made a purchase. This reiterates the idea that it’s crucial for retailers to provide a fast, frictionless mobile experience.

Nothing will send your customers running, never to return, then a clunky and slow checkout process. Another tactic you can take to boost your customers mobile shopping experience is re-surface relevant coupons for the shopper to use at checkout. Don’t force your customers to hunt-down the bargain they’re hunting for in the first place. Furthermore, don’t make the checkout process overly complicated. If you do, odds are they’re going to abandon their cart, never to return.

Sixty-nine percent of all shoppers surveyed by Google say that’s it’s vital that a retailer provide multiple check-out channels, like purchasing online with delivery, buying online and choosing a delivery pick-up spot, or picking up an item in store. And on the physical store side, accommodating modern payment options like mobile payments appeal to the tech-savvy shoppers amongst us. With wearables being a fairly common accessory among the tech-enthused crowd, ensuring your business is equiped for things like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and PayPal goes a long way.

The Bottom Line

Even when shoppers aren’t impulsively buying off mobile sites, the mobile customer experience cannot be discredited in the modern shoppers’ journey. From chatbot customer service experiences, to push notifications for your favourite store of coffee shop, mobile plays a hugely significant role in making the shopping experience authentic and engaging.

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