Mastering the Mid-Shopping Mobile Information Transfer

  |  July 30, 2013   |  Comments

If consumers expect to be able to shop and buy across devices, shouldn't we, as marketers, make it easier for them?

The interconnecting tubes of the information superhighway allow web surfers to dial up and browse your site. Wait…it's not 1999. So why are you making your device-hopping shoppers take clunky, manual steps to transfer their shopping experiences from one device to another?

You may have a dynamic, slick website full of product videos, reviews, and descriptions. Your checkout processes may be streamlined like a race car. Your newly launched, mobile-optimized site may provide a tablet shopper with fat-finger-friendly calls-to-action and a customized checkout experience. All this may be true, but you must confront the fact that the path from your home page to submitting an order is not linear. Once a shopper steps into your purchase funnel, she is extremely likely to sidestep to another device before buying. A report by based on Nielsen data found that 60 percent of people view multiple screens from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., with 23 percent of the population viewing three screens. A Google study found that 85 percent of consumers start shopping on one device and finish on another. The multi-screen, multi-device consumer population is in the majority. To close the sale, you must decide how to help your customers transfer shopping-related data between devices.

Look at how shoppers currently transfer information, and you'll see consumers are partying like it's 1999. When asked how they "pick things back up" when switching between devices, Google reports nearly half (45 percent) save bookmarks, send themselves an email, save a link, or use the shopping cart. That's not exactly a modern approach to data exchange, even for the average shopper. If consumers expect to be able to shop and buy across devices, shouldn't we, as marketers, make it easier for them?

Here are a few ways to reduce the clunkiness of the mid-shopping mobile information transfer.

Shopping Cart vs. Wish List

Which is scarier - a second date or walking down the aisle? The shopping cart has a sense of finality and commitment. Personal information is entered, payment information is required, total costs begin to add up. These actions take shoppers down the narrowing "for richer or poorer" purchase funnel, often leading to cart abandonment. If customers are using shopping carts while they are still in the exploratory stage of shopping, they are taking their second date half way down the aisle. There's a better way.

Wish lists present an opportunity to market to your shopper in a less intimidating and potentially intrusive way than, "You left something in your cart" or "Your cart will expire." Sure, shopping cart abandonment reminders are huge revenue-generating emails (and a must-have for any email marketing program). Being able to distinguish between a customer who is "wishing" for something vs. one who is a couple of clicks away from submitting an order will help you better match marketing efforts to the shopper's intent. Yet, I found that only 14 percent of product pages include a link to add an item to a wish list.

For the shopper, wish lists are a scratchpad of items she can easily revisit on another device or simply store for a few weeks until, for example, she is ready to start holiday shopping. Sending a dedicated email to subscribers is an excellent way to create awareness of your wish list and can prove a valuable asset as the major gifting season approaches.

Email a Page

OK, I'll admit it. The "share this" option on many sites that links to a gazillion different methods of content sharing is obnoxious and overwhelming. I audited 100 major retailers to find out if these links are proactively speaking to the device-hopper. The results? Not really. My informal survey found that many brands have trimmed these options down to a combination of Facebook (84 percent), Twitter (72 percent), and Pinterest (72 percent). All are great options, and some consumers may use these sites as a touchstone for continuing shopping once they have hopped to another device. Thirty-eight percent included a generic "email" link while 18 percent used a "send to a friend" call-to-action. Most of these links focus on having the shopper share information with others. Take control of the sale back with a more proactive approach by including more direct calls-to-action like "send to your inbox," or "email now to shop later." Consumers do this already, and my guess is your links that share content out to others are not clicked that frequently.

Send to Mobile Device

I rarely see this option but when I do it's usually in the inbox or linked from a digital coupon or promotion. This option may require more resources to launch, but consider the consumer insight, purchase influence, and sales attribution data you can gain by testing. There's no doubt, based on the data, that consumers are exchanging this information on their own, so why not use SMS as one of the supports to bridge the gap? This feature can be used to send offers that can be redeemed in-store (think of a mobile boarding pass) or to send short URLs linking the shopper back to a specific product, wish list, or their cart.

We have been able to set the technical guardrails for shopping and buying online. The adoption of mobile devices by consumers, and their evolving perception and realization that these devices can be used to shop and buy, will only continue to push marketers to provide a convenient way for customers to research purchases and submit an order. Whether it's by a click, a tap, or a bit of both, straighten the path to purchase for your consumer by supporting cross-platform, mid-shopping information transfer.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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Jim Davidson

As an expert in email, mobile, and social strategies, Jim brings 15 years of experience in online marketing, managing email and cross-channel programs for top retail clients. From strategic vision to implementation, Jim has led clients to successfully meet aggressive revenue and performance goals. As Bronto's head of research, he regularly publishes industry-focused white papers, research reports, and contributes to the Bronto Blog.

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