Customer Experience, Mobile Strategy, M-Commerce
By the end of the year, the number of mobile-connected devices will surpass the total number of consumers, globally, and by 2017, there will be nearly 1.4 mobile devices per person.

This according to Cisco's Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update.

Consumers increasingly use mobile devices for everything from browsing content, to comparing prices to making purchases. Mobile shopping -- whether using a mobile device to complete a purchase in-store or online -- is contributing to a growing share of e-Commerce sales in the U.S. and is exercising more influence on overall retail sales.

This year, 15% of online retail sales will take place on mobile devices. Overall, it’s estimated that U.S. m-Commerce sales will reach nearly US$ 39 billion this year, up 56.5% from 2012, and expectations for the future only show the trend increasing. While consumer activity across mobile devices -- both smartphones and tablets -- is increasing in general, it’s important for retailers to understand how consumers are using these devices so they can optimize and personalize experiences accordingly.

Tablets are currently driving the majority of mobile spending growth. By 2017, the share of sales for tablets versus smartphones in the U.S. retail m-Commerce space is expected to rise to 71.5 percent and 27 percent respectively. According to a recent  study, this is because consumers use smaller-screened smartphones to find general store information, browse websites and compare prices, but use larger-screened tablets to browse websites, compare prices and actually make purchases.

Many of today’s leading retailers believe mobile will increasingly be a significant part of their revenue. So how can retailers prepare for this growing trend in m-Commerce? Here are four tips that can help optimize your mobile strategy: 

Enable Responsive Design

While both tablets and smartphones are considered mobile devices, consumers use and interact with these devices in different ways. In our multi-device world however, consumers still expect fluid experiences as they cross over from laptop to tablet to smartphone. At the most basic level, ensure a seamless experience across devices by making sure your website adheres to Responsive Design principles and automatically renders to user device type.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

For handheld devices like smartphones, mobile websites need to help the shopper navigate directly to where they want to go in one-click. The smaller screen size of smartphones makes this a challenge. From a personalization standpoint, the product page design must be well thought out from a responsive design perspective. This may mean limiting the number and size of your product recommendations as well as placing recommendations on the page in such a way that they are easily scrolled through on a mobile device. 

Personalize and target content

Personalization and targeted product recommendations are all the more important on devices with small screens where there is limited real estate, significantly reducing the number of products that can be displayed. As a result, the strategy behind product recommendations must adapt.

Since mobile devices only have space for four to five recommendations to fit on screen, merchandisers need to take a hyper-strategic approach to the recommendations they want to display. These recommendations may be the key difference between converting shoppers to a purchase and having them leave empty-handed.

It’s also important to build a logical click path. Think about where you want your customer to go next. A similar product? An upsell? An offer? Be sure that your mobile site makes it easy for customers to quickly get to the products in which they are interested.

Location-based offers

Unlike tablets, consumers typically carry their smartphones with them everywhere, so targeted, location-based offers can be very effective. This includes pushing offers to potential customers when they’re walking outside of a store to encourage them to come in as well as offers in-store to encourage purchases, upsells and cross sells.

Once you've incorporated these four tips and have established a solid foundation, conduct your own internal testing to see if your strategy is positively affecting your business. Start by collecting and isolating events from both smartphones and tablets. Next, try building activity models that are specific to these devices. From there, you can analyze the efficacy of your strategies both by device type and overall. If you feel your mCommerce strategy is lagging, these tips are a great place to start.

Title image courtesy of Rido (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more from Dan in 4 Advanced Personalization Techniques to Improve Customer Web Experience