Mobile device-toting shoppers increasingly rely on their smartphones and tablets to sniff out deals, compare prices, check stock and find stores. So much so that four out of five mobile-carrying customers will rely on their devices to shop smarter this holiday season, according to a recent survey by tech giant Google.
We spoke with Jason Spero, Google's head of mobile sales and strategy, about how business owners can optimize their websites or apps to attract mobile-savvy shoppers during the holidays. Here are four tips he shared:
1. Add value to the in-store shopping experience.
Make sure your mobile app or site offers consumers a shopping list and other helpful features. Target's mobile app, for example, allows users to create shopping and wish lists on-the-go. To add items to their lists or gift registries and to check prices, they simply use their smartphone or tablet camera to scan barcodes and QR (quick response) codes.
If a particular item is out of stock, you can offer mobile shoppers a QR code on the empty shelf that takes them directly to your e-commerce site to purchase that product and save the sale, Spero says. "Consumers want to use the power of connectivity and the power of the internet when they are inside your store. The ability to have a mobile shopping companion in your hand while you shop is proving immensely valuable."
Another way to enhance shoppers' in-store experience is to offer QR codes that expand on basic product details. Best Buy, for instance, has added QR codes to each of its in-store item "fact tags" that shoppers can scan to watch product videos and compare customer ratings, key product features and technical specifications.
2. Attract bargain hunters.
Mobile devices make it fast and easy to find seasonal deals. So, offer shoppers coupons, e-gift cards, discounts and QR codes that can be scanned and redeemed directly from smartphones and tablets at checkout. Take Walgreens for example. The drugstore chain provides QR code mobile coupons for use in stores, and its mobile app also allows loyal customers to earn, track and redeem Walgreens Balance Rewards points as they shop.
Display all daily or weekly discounts and deals within your mobile app. Target's and Walmart's apps show off their local weekly in-store ads based on users' GPS location. Text alerts about promotions also can help reel in mobile app users, but don't overdo it and alienate customers. For instance, Macy's sends out a maximum of three special deal text alerts a week. Any more than that could be a nuisance and risk alienating consumers.
"Just being aware that price and offer-conscious consumers will walk out of the store they're in and walk into your store based on finding your deal or sale item on their mobile device is to understand the power of mobile connectivity," Spero says.
3. Be fast and informative.
Make sure your mobile site or app is fast loading and informative, Spero advises. "Think of the questions shoppers are asking themselves and design your mobile site to answer them." For example, prominently display your address and phone number, hours of service, product information and reviews, plus details on how to purchase an item online or in stores.
Also, be sure to list a "click-to-call" phone number front and center on your mobile site or app so consumers can instantly engage with your business, Spero says. And it's important to display your store hours prominently if they are being extended during the holiday shopping period.
4. Make it easy to locate the store and specific merchandise.
Finding a nearby store easily matters to consumers, so offer a basic store locator function on your website or app and include links to maps and directions. "Also, design your mobile presence to help consumers quickly find out if an item is in stock or not" at different nearby locations, Spero says.
For example, Home Depot's mobile app enables shoppers to find products to be shipped or picked up at a certain store and lets them share products via email and on Facebook and Twitter -- all the better to spread the word about their own holiday wish lists.