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3 Ways Consumers Are Using Mobile Commerce

Eighty-five percent of mobile Internet users are (i) waiting for something, (ii) on a break from work, or (iii) relaxing at home.

Ecommerce store owners often make general assumptions about their visitors – the settings, the environment, and the context in which they are visiting.

I spent about four years helping to grow Walmart’s mobile commerce business. Based on this experience and additional research, I learned that approximately 85% of mobile internet use can be reduced to one of the following three experiences:

  • Wait for something to happen.
  • On a break from work.
  • Relaxation at home.

For each of these scenarios, it’s important to consider the facets of the mobile visitor experience. Why are they visiting the site? What problems do they solve? How to capture them in the moment?

Wait for something to happen

Waiting for something to happen is the most likely scenario for mobile visitors.

Why are they visiting the site? An idea occurred to them and they quickly searched for a relevant term on Google. In this scenario, users typically concentrate for only 5-10 minutes. But they are not in the mood to perform. They simply make a mental list of ideas to consider and places to visit.

What problems do they solve? The purchase of a product is not the problem they are trying to solve. Instead, they solve what I call the “landscape problem”: by creating a list of potential stores and products. Most visitors don’t know where to buy specific items. Take bandages, for example. Many consumers would consider a pharmacy first. But what about heavy duty gauze bandages? A local pharmacy may or may not sell them. If not, who does? This is an example of the problem that most mobile shoppers solve.

How to capture them in the moment? Cast the opportunities to connect through your mobile site – via email (your best bet) or social media. Give visitors a reason to log in (beyond a simple discount). Then gently reconnect in a few days.

On a break from work

Why are they visiting the site? During a break from work, people are probably visiting your site out of boredom, looking for something interesting.

What problem are they solving? Most visitors to work are looking for inspiration and novelty. Many return from a difficult conversation or a difficult change. They look for experiences that distract or excite them, to pursue later. Visitors to work don’t have a goal in mind, unlike those in the queue.

How to capture them in the moment? A simple thing to help users at work is to create a “Discovery” or “New Ideas” category or section. Update it at least quarterly to showcase your company’s best ideas and products.

Relaxation at home

Why are they visiting the site? Visitors come to your site from home because it is probably the quietest part of their day. They can use a phone as a second screen for a football game in the background or browse while their kids play video games before bed.

What problems do they solve? Mobile home visitors are looking to buy a product that solves a problem. While the first two scenarios – on hold and on break from work – dealt with discovery and boredom, the home scenario executes the sale.

How to capture them in the moment? Start by making sure your site is fast and responsive. From there, make sure you can capture and update reviews – for products and for your entire site. Having all your easy and efficient payment methods prominently displayed in advance goes a long way in convincing users that they can complete their purchases quickly. Finally, consider allowing bookmarks or saved baskets to help visitors rate other products, but remember yourself.


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