26 November 2013 | Tanya Goodin

mChristmas – A mobile site (or app) is not just for Christmas

mChristmas-topOur mChristmas feature has been focused on mobile commerce in the run up to Christmas, because the festive period is such an important one for most retailers. However, providing an excellent online experience across all devices is clearly not just a target that retailers should be aiming for at Christmas.

If retailers have missed out on optimizing their ecommerce sites for mobile and tablet devices this Christmas, it should become the priority for 2014.

By many measures, visits to retail sites from handheld devices have now passed visits from desktop PC browsers. But the growth of mobile commerce will continue to outstrip the growth of online sales over desktop devices for some time to come.

Smartphone penetration still has a little way to go and the meteoric adoption of the tablet shows no signs of slowing down, with more than 8 million tablets expected to be sold in the UK in the run up to Christmas – ironically, many of which will be purchased or researched through a smartphone.

Retailers who have bricks and mortar stores as well as an online equivalent will, of course, need to think more deeply about how their customers interact whilst in-store. More than 1million people are expected to visit JohnLewis.com on Boxing Day, with more than half likely to be using handheld devices. But how many of those mobile website visitors will physically be in a John Lewis store or in one of their rivals’ shops at the same time?

According to Econsultancy, 57% of smartphone users now engage in ‘showrooming’; the practice of using a mobile whilst in store to search for better prices elsewhere.

The rise of smartphone-assisted shopping highlights the need for another area of focus for bricks and mortar retailers: local search. It’s vital that those potential customers who are on the high street can not only find your online store, but that they can find your local branch or store as well as. Two thirds of smartphone owners search for local business and information on a weekly basis and, according to Google, 40% of mobile searches have local intent.

It might be too late to make dramatic changes to your mobile strategy in time for Christmas 2013. But those brands that can get mobile strategy right through 2014 will be winners come next Christmas.

We’ll be taking another look at mChristmas in the new year, to find out just how accurate these predictions have been – and what the trends to watch out for in 2014 are. And you can guarantee I’ll be including some of this in my Digital Predictions this year!

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Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar