As businesses begin to emerge from the turbulence wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, many entrepreneurs are anticipating a strong resurgence in consumer demand. For people who had been confined to their homes for a year and restricted in so many ways, this expected freedom is sure to result in increased shopping and travel throughout the summer, fall, and beyond. If you’re a business owner of any kind (whether you have a physical store, an ecommerce presence, or both), you absolutely must be ready to embrace what is coming. The following numbers should help to send your efforts into overdrive.
What holiday shopping tells us.
The 2020 holiday season occurred during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Although people may not have been able to be in the same room with their loved ones, they still shopped for them. Interestingly, one-third of all online purchases were conducted via smartphones. This is at a time when shoppers were even more likely to be at home and close to their desktop computers, so they clearly preferred the hand-held option.
Mobile phone ownership in the U.S.
If you suspect that smartphones are everywhere these days, you’re right. A full 77 percent of Americans, more than 230 million consumers in all, now own these devices. Of that number, the vast majority carry their smartphones with them wherever they go.
Far more than simply small telephones, these hand-held devices have become nothing less than powerful microcomputers equipped with a robust set of tools and capabilities that you as a merchant should be tapping into. (Think GPS for location-based promotions, built-in digital wallets for making tap-and-go payments, and internet browsing and online payments.) As your buyers continue to emerge from isolation, they’ll undoubtedly be looking to continue to harness the power of their smartphones when making purchases.
The smartphone purchasing statistic you need to know.
In the past six months, more than 79 percent of the country’s smartphone owners used their devices to make a purchase. This could have been done online using a merchant’s ecommerce platform or in-person with contactless payment/digital wallet options. Either way, both consumer and merchant had to do some preparatory work to make those purchases happen.
The consumer likely needed to set up their phone for digital payments by inputting information into its built-in digital wallet. The merchant needed to ensure that their payment processing hardware and software were optimized to accept mobile payments. This would have involved obtaining equipment equipped with near-field communication (NFC) technology to receive touchless payments as well as getting a virtual point of sale system to conduct payment transactions over the phone, or at other times when a card was not present.
The effect of mobile payment transaction difficulties.
We know that smartphones are the payment vehicles of the future and that it behooves merchants to incorporate them into their business models. However, doing so is not a simple matter of pressing some imaginary button and suddenly diving into mobile commerce. The truth is that if you don’t do it right, you could be losing out on huge profits.
An alarming statistic tells the tale: 84 percent of consumers have experienced difficulty completing a mobile transaction. Furthermore, 40 percent of consumers say that they will click away to a competitor after this happens.
How can you prepare yourself for the mobile shopping explosion that’s coming?
In addition to scrutinizing analytics to see what your customers want and pre-ordering the right inventory, your preparations for the impending consumer frenzy must include making your website a welcoming place for the growing numbers of buyers who will browse it via their mobile device. Take the time to implement the following steps.
• Program your website to be responsive to all mobile devices so that it intuitively adapts to each according to its specifications.
• Make buttons, links, and calls to action prominent, correctly sized, and easy to access.
• Include all phone numbers in text form so that users can easily tap to call, or share them with a friend.
• Optimize your content for smaller screens. Instead of including a lot of dense text, incorporate videos and infographics that can be easily viewed by on-the-go shoppers.
• Make contact forms easy to complete by increasing the size of the input fields. The last thing you want to do is to lose out on capturing someone’s information or making a sale because they became frustrated with your checkout process.
• Simplify your menus. Save your more complex subcategories for desktop users, making sure to keep your mobile site offerings restricted to one screen.
• Simplify forms as much as possible, only requesting essential information. If you want more later, you can also request it.
• Add a search bar to enable a faster, more efficient browsing and purchasing experience.
• Prominently provide your support phone number, email address, and social media links so that customers will know how to get in touch with you if they need help. This can cut down significantly on shopping cart abandonment and lost sales.
• Place your most important buttons within easy reach of your customers’ thumbs. That means that the most important elements should be towards the middle of the screen.
• Make sure that your mobile site loads quickly. Fifty-three percent of consumers will abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. Consider adopting accelerated mobile pages (AMP) into your site to get priority in search results for your mobile users for certain queries. What’s more, these pages, while they are still HTML, load much more quickly.
As a business owner who is probably struggling to recover after the numerous negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it is in your best interests to optimize your chances for success. Before the busy travel and shopping seasons start, take some time to plan.
• Use your sales history, reports, and analytics to make your best predictions about trends so that you can manage your inventory more effectively.
• Hire and/or train staff to accommodate the rush.
• Use social media and other marketing strategies to publicize your offerings and promotions in advance. This ensures that your brand remains top-of-mind with consumers.
• Evaluate your website, assessing it for mobile-friendly and responsive design.
Once you’ve put all of these elements in place, you’ll be ready to welcome the shopping blitz that is undoubtedly on its way.