Christmas Must Set the 'Mobile-First' Mindset for 2018  

The dust has settled on one of busiest shopping weekends of the year and retailers are now heads-down in activating their Christmas campaigns to drive spend. While the headlines certainly suggest that Black Friday was a success, data shows that retailers are leaking revenue from one channel in particular. Writing exclusively for RetailTechNews, Graham Cooke, CEO, Qubit, explains why retailers need to stop relying on desktop in their Christmas strategies.

While over half (55%) of British consumers browsed for deals on their mobiles over the Black Friday weekend, according to our data, smartphones only accounted for just over a third (36%) of revenue. In comparison, desktop accounted for a third (33%) of visitors but nearly half (49%) of revenue. Not only are brands leaving a vast amount of money unclaimed, they’re also missing out on the opportunity to develop long-term loyalty with those new and returning customers visiting via their handsets.

How can retailers ensure they approach Christmas, as well as 2018, with a mobile-first mindset?

Forget online vs high street – it’s now desktop vs mobile 

This Christmas, retailers need to avoid relying on desktop. Qubit data from across the Black Friday weekend shows that mobile performance still lags far behind desktop, with average revenue per visitor on desktop at £5.63, more than double the £2.47 on mobile. There is a lot to gain by channeling more investment in mobile, but brands haven’t built their mobile environments with today’s customer in mind – it’s the Cinderella of the retail channel world.

Across online retail, brands must also realise they are not just competing with other retailers like Amazon which captured more than half of all online sales growth in 2016, but are now facing the mobile-friendly experiences provided by the likes of Instagram and Pinterest.

Retailers can start meeting this challenge head-on by tailoring their offers or product ranges on mobile to each and every customer segment. Marketers are increasingly coming round to the benefits of this customised approach; but we remain a long way off personalisation nirvana, particularly on mobile. Too many retailers rely on hamburger menus and search alone, making it difficult for their users to find new products.

Unlocking the mobile opportunity with discovery 

Thanks to the shift from desktop to mobile browsing, the number of shoppers seeing an e-commerce homepage has more than halved. Now only around 1-in-8 shoppers see a mobile homepage, making the merchandiser’s role of influencing the direction of the shopper almost impossible. At the same time, the product catalogue of many retailers is ever-increasing in size and can change as frequently as every week in order to cater for every customer’s need, as well as compete with e-commerce behemoths like Amazon.

It can be extremely challenging to get products in front of customers who are time-poor, attention-deprived, and overloaded with information. However, when you consider that there is a direct correlation between increased product views and increased revenues, it’s clear this is an important problem to address. The more relevant products you can show a visitor, the more likely they are to add to bag, and the more likely they are to purchase.

Doing this manually would be impossible. When you bring in AI-powered personalisation you can increase product views at scale and tailor experiences to each individual. AI-powered product discovery at scale is something brands are already starting to use with platforms like Qubit Aura. Hobbycraft has seen a 4.23% increases in RPV since using the technology, which has enabled the brand to display a broader range of its products to users.

Data is the new oil

In the current climate, every customer interaction counts. Data is the new oil and machine learning provides the engine that powers a unique experience for every visitor. One that can lead consumers into their own discovery journeys with their favourite brands. And for the brand, it helps to build a lasting relationship that benefits the revenue line by using techniques that are proven to work.

A word of warning for retailers, though. Before trying to harness machine learning in the customer journey, you must lay good foundations for data gathering and processing to ensure you are able to source and process enough useful, high-quality data. Put simply, if you feed rubbish in, you will get rubbish out.

Overcoming this challenge may not be easy, but retailers that put a focus on their mobile experience and employ technology like artificial intelligence, will game-change their mobile revenue for Christmas and beyond.