The race is on. While many of the country’s largest businesses are pulling out the stops to capture their shares of the $204 billion mobile market, local merchants are seemingly falling further and further behind. Without a mobile strategy — or even a basic website with mobile compatibilities — small businesses are finding it difficult to compete in the m-commerce market.
With four-out-of-five consumers now using their smartphones to shop, and 96% researching products or services on their phones, it’s finally time for SMBs to step up and implement the types of m-commerce strategies that fuel business sales and growth. By not having m-commerce enabled, SMBs are practically inviting shoppers who can’t wait until they get home to make purchases to switch their business over to larger retail outlets.
Here are seven m-commerce strategies from experts in the field.
1. Keep an eye on the big guys. “Keep an eye on what bigger companies are doing — what kinds of technology and apps they are using, and the use cases they are implementing. It’s pretty easy to see what resonates with consumers and what doesn’t — think ‘pain points.’ If the mobile technology makes something a lot faster and easier than it used to be, then it’ll be a winner. That’s why Uber is so successful. Remember what a total pain in the ass it used to be to get a taxi? Not anymore.” (David Pipe, Powa Technologies)
2. Consider the customer’s perspective. “There’s more to optimizing your website for m-commerce than just making sure it looks good on a cellphone screen. SMBs need to be smart and think about their mobile strategy from the customer’s perspective. What do they want to accomplish on a mobile site? When and under what circumstances are they visiting? SMBs should make it easy for their clients or customers to meet their objectives with simple calls-to-actions. They should create an m-commerce experience that provides mobile users the same functionality they’ve come to expect from traditional websites, such as viewing order history, making purchases, scheduling appointments, and sharing documents.” (Ran Oelgiesser, vCita)
3. Simplify the purchase funnel. “Make it easy for customers to buy via your mobile site or app. The experience on a mobile device is different than a PC, and what works on desktop won’t necessarily translate to mobile. Simplify the purchase funnel as much as you can. This includes integrating with a payment solution so that the customer doesn’t have to pull out her credit card to make a purchase.” (Mike Earls, Millennial Media)
4. Use m-commerce in lieu of a POS. “An advantage SMBs have with m-commerce is that they can also use the m-commerce solution instead of the point of sales system. When everything went down during Hurricane Sandy in New York, m-commerce would still have worked. For those who have an e-commerce solution without a mobile version, bMobilized offers an easy m-commerce solution. Another easy way to solve this, without building a full m-commerce solution, is to allow phone ordering or collect email addresses. Then you just need to make a mobile version with a click-to-call plugin and click-to-email.” (Bjørn Holte, bMobilized)
5. Think about how shoppers use multiple screens. “A purchase on mobile is very rarely a linear one. It usually involves many different channels, so having an understanding of how these different inputs are working together, and what your user journey looks like, will help your small business succeed.” (Alli Brian, Kahuna)
6. Turn ads into direct sales channels. “There are technologies on the market today whereby a small business can put a single ad in a newspaper or magazine — with a QR-code that when accessed via the right app, can download an entire catalog into the consumer’s phone, and allow the consumer to shop and buy right on the device. This kind of technology can effectively turn any advertisement into a direct sales channel. These kinds of ads can appear virtually anywhere: newspapers, magazines, outdoor posters, the seat-back of a bus — the possibilities are endless.” (David Pipe, Powa Technologies)
7. Don’t forget to analyze. “Mobile offers unique insights into your customers, which can be used for optimization. Use an analytics platform to learn who your customers are and where they spend time on your mobile site or app. You can also use this data for ongoing marketing efforts, new customer acquisition, and customer retention.” (Mike Earls, Millennial Media)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.