We Need to Talk About Your Mobile Strategy

At some point we allowed ourselves to become OK with responsive design as a mobile strategy. In truth, responsive design isn’t a real mobile strategy – it’s a placebo that doesn’t address the underlying problem. Responsive design is a desktop centric-approach that allows you to save time, money and energy rather than actually rolling up your sleeves and directly addressing the huge shift from desktop to mobile. What’s needed is a truly mobile-centric approach that embraces the strengths and weaknesses of the medium.

Look at Smartphones. They are challenged by the very environments in which they’re typically found – transition states, waiting in line, commuting, stolen minutes between meetings. These moments are fleeting; highly susceptible to distraction or interruption. On the flip side, however, these moments are incredible impulse opportunities. If I see a great pair of shoes or jeans while I’m out, I can instantly pull out my phone and start looking rather than having to remember to look them up later.

Unfortunately, today’s ecommerce sites don’t facilitate impulse shopping on a smartphone very well. The category structure, generic search results and limited screen real estate (even on the largest of phones) makes finding items you want time consuming and arduous. How can you take advantage of theses on-demand impulse shopping moments, while also making it easier for shoppers to quickly find what they want?

“There are two quick answers to that question. They represent the first steps in a new, shopper-friendly approach to mobile strategy that takes advantage of impulse shopping opportunities but also two core strengths of the smartphone itself – photos and voice.”

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Smartphones and photos are two peas in a pod. Half of the top 10 iOS apps are associated with either photos or videos. The visual medium is perfect for the small real estate of smartphones. Retailers can capitalize on that strength, as well as the fact that a picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. Pictures inherently communicate all sorts of attributes like color, shape, style and even material. What if you could simply search using a photo rather than trying to type a description? I see a pair of shoes I want, snap a picture and search your site using the image. It’s simple; even faster than searching on a desktop and you would be amazed at how accurate the results are. You can even get results when there are multiple items in a picture (or a whole outfit). While many readers might think that will be fun in the future that functionality is available today.

Photo Search shopper-friendly mobile strategy
The Real “Voice of the Customer”
Did you know that in 2016, 20% of Google searches from mobile devices were done using voice search? When Siri first came out it seemed like a questionable feature. The ability to have Siri understand what you were saying or the limited amount of responses it could provide made it initially feel like a failed product. Fast forward to today where more people are becoming aware of the usefulness of the voice functionality on their smartphones every day. Whether verbally telling your Android phone to text someone and then dictating the content of your message or using your iPhone to set a timer, consumers are seeing that this voice thing is a time saver and incredibly easy.

The explosion of Amazon Alexa-enable products and Google Home further demonstrate the incredible rate of consumer adoption of voice technology. What if you married the usefulness of voice search with your own ecommerce site? Someone using a smartphone can immediately bypass the headaches of searching for the right merchandise on your site by simply saying “Show me floral dresses under $100.” With those few simple words they have taken what might have been a frustrating experience of typing and scrolling through results or category selections and then attempting to click the right filters and transformed it into a much simpler experience with results focused on each shoppers intent. That mobile, impulse shopping opportunity we discussed earlier just became an incredibly simple, fast and accurate experience that overcomes one of the biggest challenges to mobile shopping – finding the right item in your near endless aisles.

shopper-friendly mobile strategy
This isn’t a complete mobile strategy (we still need to address checkout, and don’t worry, we will in a future post). But the implementation and availability of photo and voice search are the core elements to a smart “Mobile-First” strategy that will take advantage of those impulse shopping opportunities and leave consumers wishing that shopping on their desktop was as quick and easy as shopping on their smartphone.

Kurt Heinemann

Kurt is Reflektion’s CMO. His resume includes CMO positions at Marketwired and Monetate. He’s also held senior executive positions at Priceline, Time Warner and Walker Digital Companies. Despite living in Yankees territory, Kurt is a die hard Tigers fan.