Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

“Should retailers be looking at mobile only rather than mobile first?”

Paul Skeldon, Internet Retailing writes     ….   Boffins at the IMRG have been watching a steadily growing gulf emerge in terms of growth between online-only retailers and omni-channel retailers.

According to the men in white coats, there is a widening gap between pure-play online only retailers and the omni-channel players when it comes to online sales – and the key difference is the former’s focus on mobile.

Since last July online-only retailers are up +24.8% year-to-date (Jan to June) and multichannel retailers back on +9.5%.

The gap between the two groups reached a record-high in June 2016, when growth for the online-only retailers (+32.4%) was a full 23 percentage-points ahead of the rate for the multichannel retailers compared with June 2015.

Digging a little deeper, the IMRG and research partner CapGemini [IRDX VCPG] found that at the same time sales through smartphones had started a similar upward trajectory.

Further analysis has convinced both parties that the substantial difference in growth is down to mobile.

But why?

Research is still on-going, but wisdom seems to suggest that the pure-play online retailers have had more time and money to invest in mobile optimization, apps, and adaptive-responsive design than their omni-channel cousins – the latter being bogged down in trying to do that while also perfecting click & collect, keep store traffic up and make their PC online offering attractive too.

This focus on mobile means that more shoppers are happy to use the mobile to browse and then buy through these retailers than they are with onmi-channel ones.

This means that focusing on designing a great UX for mobile – clean design, simple navigation, infinite scroll and so on – does actually give quite an uplift in sales.

It also shows that consumers are more than willing to do the purchase on mobile if it’s easy and works well.

This goes against the conventional wisdom oft peddled in the omni-channel world that mobile is an initial research tool, but that actual buying is still largely done on the desktop.

Phooey! It seems that IMRG has unwittingly stumbled across something much bigger: mobile is the ideal research channel, but it is also the ideal purchase channel too – if you design it properly.

This too might explain odd readings in the latest analysis of data for the period from Similar Web by, a global social commerce network that includes HotUKDeals in the UK, which finds that more than half the traffic to the top 25 etail sites in the UK comes from mobile.

Similarly, research by Hitwise, a division of Connexity, reveals how important mobile devices are for travellers during the early planning stages of a holiday, with 60% of all travel site searches originating from a mobile device.

The fact that all this traffic comes from mobile – yet the sales don’t – indicates that shoppers maybe aren’t looking at using different devices for different parts of the sales process, but rather are forced to use different devices to research and then buy because of poor design of mobile by many retailers.

This changes everything about what we think we know about mobile. It could well be that mobile could be the main channel for research, sales and more if retailers actually deliver the kind of mobile experiences that consumers feel comfortable using – like the ones many pure-play etailers seem to have managed to deliver.

Taking this argument further, perhaps even online growth staples such as click & collect and desktop ecommerce are only actually massive because the alternative – mobile – isn’t being done properly?

The lure of m-commerce has always been that it could offer a holistic approach to the consumer: taking them from marketing to research to purchase to engaged follow up and round again, building a virtuous circle of a relationship. What has kept this from happening has been that the loop has always been broken by the purchase part – with many shoppers opting to use their desktop machine to actually buy.

All along this may well be because retailers are focussing their investment on the wrong thing. Should they perhaps be looking at mobile only rather than mobile first and then they too can see the massive growth in traffic and sales so far kept secret by the pure-plays?