Considerations for Your M-Commerce Strategy

By Jonathan Cobb, jonathan@llnw.com

The retail industry is going mobile in a big way. With approximately 115 million people predicted to own smartphones by the end of 2011, the new era of hyperconnected devices and faster broadband networks provides opportunities for continued growth in the field of mobile commerce. Location-based applications such as those from Shopkick and Yelp are picking up steam. From PacSun to Staples to Crutchfield.com, an increasing number of retailers are also launching mobile-optimized sites and developing smartphone apps to satisfy tech-savvy consumers. Even e-mail alerts, like those from Petco, are formatted for phone viewing based on their size, structure, and content.

The success of these innovators stems from an effective mobile strategy. According to research firm The Nielsen Co., in early 2011, 36% of the mobile phones in use were smartphones, and by the end of the year, nearly half of all mobile phones in use will be smartphones. As more consumers employ these devices, they will increasingly embrace them as an important shopping tool. According to IBM, 49% of the respondents to its mobile survey used two or more devices to shop online.

The reasons for shopping on a mobile device can vary from convenience to time sensitivity, especially regarding the search for highly-coveted bargains that online shoppers continually crave. Whether a smartphone user is standing in line at Starbucks or waiting for a doctor’s appointment, retailers must adopt mobile commerce strategies to keep up with their target audiences anywhere, anytime.

Create Engaging Content for a Mobile Audience
SellPoint research indicates that on-demand video tours can greatly increase ecommerce conversion rates, while Dynamic Logic has found that video is increasingly becoming a valuable tool for improving engagement. Consumers demand rich content like videos and detailed product images on online shopping sites, and that’s why retailers have increasingly added this content to their ecommerce sites. However, many of these retailers have still not yet made their online videos and images available on their mobile sites. Consumer expectations for mobile shopping sites are no less or different than online ones.  Retailers who include product introduction videos or 360 degree product photography on their mobile sites can considerably enhance customer engagement and brand loyalty. 

Accelerate the Experience
Just as in the online world, mobile shoppers do not want to wait. Shopzilla noted that saving five seconds in page loading resulted in 25% more page views and 12% more revenue. Similarly, Compuware Gomez found that consumers will abandon slow-loading mobile sites within five seconds of initial view, and that they expect these sites to be displayed as fast as or even faster than their computer screens.

To ensure speedy mobile shopping experiences, retailers can leverage solutions that accelerate whole mobile sites. However, acceleration is not simply about speeding page loads -- it’s also about improving Time to Action. Time to Action is the time it takes for users to first engage with content on an online or mobile site. An acceleration service that improves Time to Action allows users to become active participants within milliseconds of landing on a site, resulting in longer site visits and increased conversions. To improve Time to Action and accelerate page loads, retailers should consider mobile site acceleration solutions with the following two features.

Presentation Layer Technology
Presentation layer technology allows retailers to reduce Time To Action in half.  It delivers the most important, engaging content to a mobile site first and lets consumers immediately interact with this content, even if the rest of the page is still loading. So, consumers don’t have to wait for product recommendations to load before clicking on the product video. The benefits of instant engagement include reduced abandonment rates, more page views, more time on the site, and increased conversion rates. In fact, Allbarstools.com, a CSN Stores site, saw a 17% increase in page views per visit and a 1.5% decrease in bounce rate after improving Time to Action.

Robust, High Speed Global Network Infrastructure
To significantly decrease page load times of mobile sites, an acceleration solution needs to leverage a robust global network infrastructure that can reliably deliver whole mobile sites at lightning speeds, even during times of peak requests. This lets retailers ensure maximum performance of their mobile sites regardless of consumer location or intense traffic spikes.  What’s more, a robust network has the capability to accelerate the delivery of rich and dynamic content that typically slows page loads. 

Rich Content and Optimized Performance Drive Conversion
The widespread adoption of smartphones means that consumers are doing more on their mobile devices, including engaging in mobile commerce. As use of mobile phones increases, fulfilling users’ expectations with high-quality visual experiences and reliable site performance becomes increasingly vital for creating a loyal customer base. Retailers who employ mobile site acceleration services that both improve Time to Action and speed page load times for rich, dynamic sites can generate the highest consumer engagement and conversion rates.

Jonathan Cobb, CTO, Mobility Solutions, Limelight Networks, which provides solutions that enable business and technology decision makers to profit from the shift of content and advertising to the online world, the explosive growth of mobile and connected devices, and the migration of IT applications and services into the cloud. He can be reached at jonathan@llnw.com.

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