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In a “Just Commerce” World, Retailers Need Big Data More than Ever

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Soon customers won’t distinguish between shopping on their phones, online or in your store. Big data can help you prepare.

Americans are obsessed with smartphones. We use them morning, noon and night to manage our daily activities, follow the news, and stay in touch with friends and family. A new study by Asurion says we check them almost 80 times a day!

We also use mobile devices to shop. Mobile, or “m-commerce,” is growing 3x faster than traditional e-commerce, a phenomenon directly correlated to the explosive growth of smartphones. In 2017:

  • Mobile retail revenue in the U.S. reached $156 billion.
  • 1 in 4 e-commerce dollars was spent on a mobile device.
  • With 40% mobile reach, Amazon was the most popular shopping app in the U.S.
  • The 3.3% online conversion rates for tablets came close to the 3.9% conversion rate of traditional e-commerce.
  • Smartphones and tablets accounted for 1/3 of Cyber Monday holiday sales in the U.S.

50% of mobile shoppers go to Amazon first when researching a product from their mobile phone. — BloomReach, “State of Amazon 2016”

Just commerce

Recently, I have been writing about a not-too-distant future when customers and retailers won’t distinguish between buying and selling online or in stores. Mobile shopping will just be... shopping. Similarly, nobody will stop to think about whether they’re buying from a computer or a mobile device. Commerce will just be... commerce.

In a “just commerce” future, businesses need to think like a customer. Consumers want simple tools to contact a business and ask a question. They’re excited that Sephora’s virtual artist app shows them how cosmetics look on their own face in their own home — not augmented reality. They appreciate fewer barriers to impulse buys from their phone — not one-click purchasing enabled by mobile wallets. Ignore the tech jargon but make sure your commerce website is mobile-optimized, simple to navigate, and transaction-friendly.

U.S. mobile sales will be 49% of retail e-commerce by 2020, according to e-Marketer.

Is 2018 your year for mobile? Big data is the key.

Browsing, researching, comparing prices, and making a purchase involve the same steps regardless of user interface. As your customer moves from shopping to buying, they may interact with a variety of devices, kiosks, scanners, POS systems, and even people who work for you.

Each of those contacts generates valuable data about who’s buying, what they’re buying, and if and when they return or exchange the thing they just bought. Your goal is to see and understand all the data from each of those sources to understand what’s working in your marketing and supply chain, and what’s not.

As a rule, you want to know:

  • Are you getting enough traffic and new users into your mobile store?
  • When they get there, are they finding the items they want or the special deal you’re offering?
  • Are they moving from the front door (landing page) to the showroom (product pages) with ease?
  • Are they adding products to their shopping cart and buying before they leave the store, or abandoning their items before they finish the transaction?

Think of your mobile store as an extension of your physical brand, not a separate customer experience.

In our “just commerce” future, retail is about the customer not the channel. Meet your customers wherever they are — on the phone, on your website, or in your store — and data will show you the way to more and better sales.

To learn more about big data for retail logistics get our e-book: Using Big Data to Optimize Distribution Strategy.

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Topics: e-commerce shopping retail mobile mobile shopping