6 Ways Merchants Can Encourage Customers to Complete Mobile Transactions

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MobileU.S. mobile sales are expected to grow by 630% in 2014, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at what small businesses are doing to prepare. Just 3% of SMBs in the U.S. have websites that can handle mobile transactions, according to a recent survey by hibu and Impact Research. One of the reasons why merchants have been reluctant to adopt the right tools for dealing with mobile transactions is because they don’t understand what’s in it for them.

What it means to complete a transaction on mobile depends on the industry a merchant is in. QSR restaurants may want customers to place orders, salons may want customers to book appointments, and retailers may want shoppers to purchase products. But just creating a mobile-optimized website or using a reservation system with mobile capabilities isn’t always enough to get customers on board. Without the appropriate strategies and tools in place to encourage customers to complete mobile transactions, SMBs risk losing customers to their big box competitors.

Here are six ideas for local merchants who are interested in how they can encourage more customers to complete transactions via mobile.

1. Show the value immediately. “The challenge is not technology, but how to establish trust and engagement in this digital economy. I call this digital Velcro. The retailer that connects their screens fluidly will win big. Good marketers are good relationship builders. Mobile is a great challenge because the ‘bar-room pickup’ needs to be instantaneous — show me the value and lead to a second date. A good marketer needs to spend some time understanding the behavior of his mobile consumer.” (Gary Schwartz, Impact Mobile)

2. Bring available inventory to mobile shoppers. “Bringing available inventory to the shopper in an app is a great start. Platforms such as Retailigence, Milo, and Krillion come to mind whereby the retailer can show their available inventory within various apps that are using the APIs. The next step will be providing the shopper the ability to check out right from the ad unit or search query. Platforms such as Groupon are letting small retailers post available inventory in their ecosystem, as well, to help mom and pops sell their excess inventory.” (David Levine, Gaxsys)

3. Focus on simplicity to eliminate customer fears. “Create a simple user experience for exploring your app that doesn’t require an immediate login or registration, so people can see if they are interested in the products being sold. Next, businesses should communicate in simple ways why permissions for location and privacy are required. Providing an incentive to download and use the app for the first time can increase adoption and repeat use up to 50%.” (Anke Corbin, Splick-it)

4. Eliminate the barrier between intent-to-buy and purchase. “Job one is to make sure that there is no barrier between intent-to-buy and purchase. Any barrier — geography, number of clicks, clumsy wallet design — will drive precipitous drop-off and abandonment of intent. In a world were commerce can and should happen anywhere, a CMO needs to count clicks to commerce and optimize online and store checkout design. For a mobile consumer, who is not captive on a large screen device, anything that makes you ‘think’ is an interruption.” (Gary Schwartz, Impact Mobile)

5. Grab onto valuable leads. “You don’t just want visitors to find your website; you want them to contact you to learn more about your business. You can be doing everything right when it comes to getting found online but still lose valuable leads if you don’t have the time, tools, and skills to turn a call into a purchase. To close the sale, it’s necessary to have a platform, like ReachEdge, in place to optimize a website for mobile engagement. With a mobile-optimized website that can capture calls, emails, and completed contact forms, track them by marketing source, and deliver reports with insights about where your leads are coming from, you can determine true marketing ROI.” (Kris Barton, ReachLocal)

6. Consider offering same-day delivery. “We view the ability to help local retailers do same-day delivery from a nimble platform as a necessary piece of the technology stack. The ability to deliver to someone, whether they are at home or not, will be one way that local retailers compete and survive. This segment of the market is heating up with eBay Now, Google, and Amazon working on same-day delivery. Retailers will need to quickly offer faster delivery as an option.” (David Levine, Gaxsys)

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.