How mobile devices are shortening the path from passion to purchase


Adam Marchick, Contributor

January 15, 2015

People have always wanted things, but now they can get them instantly. With just a few taps or clicks, we can chat with someone on the opposite side of the world via Skype, receive medical advice, use Flywheel to hail a cab, buy new shoes, and have a chef-prepared meal delivered hot to our door. We live in a world of instant gratification.

Mobile devices are a major driver of the “now” economy because they enable brands to capture impulse. With a smartphone or tablet always in our pockets or at our fingertips, they are fundamentally changing the way people shop by reducing the time between when a consumer sees a compelling brand message and takes action. Here are 6 ways mobile devices are shortening the path from passion to purchase.

Brands reach customers — instantly

Smartphones enable brands to reach consumers anytime, anywhere. People can and do check their email dozens of times a day, if not more. They also check social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and rely on push notifications so they know instantly when something new happens through any one of these channels. They take their phones with them to bed, to work, and out on the town. A report from mobile analytics firm Flurry found that 176 million users open apps more than 60 times per day. This dizzying level of connectivity creates an unlimited number of opportunities for brands to reach customers at exactly the right moment, whether they are 10 feet away from a physical store or sitting on their couch when a desired item goes on sale.

Customers get what they want — instantly

Along the same lines, mobile devices allow customers the ability to get what they want the moment they realize they want it. Run out of toilet paper? Considering 75% of Americans admit to using their phone in the bathroom, someone could literally order more paper without taking a step.  Hear about a concert? SeatGeek can get you seats in an instant. Hungry? There are dozens of apps out there that can have food in your hands within the hour, like SpoonRocket. Apps make consumers’ favorite brands just one click away. The amount of time people are willing to wait for a product or service has dwindled, which also makes them more likely to be decisive. The longer they wait to buy, the longer they wait to receive.

Found time

Beyond the bathroom, smartphones are frequently used as a way to fill dead time, like the morning commute or a long line at the post office. Instead of passively zoning out, customers now turn to their phones for entertainment, which can include playing games or mobile shopping. They shop for a new outfit on the bus, or search for flights while in line at the market. The opportunities for brands and customers to interact, or for customers to make a purchase, are no longer limited to when they are sitting in front of a TV or computer.

Impulse buying

Friction during checkout was a challenge during the early days of mobile commerce, but not anymore. Mobile app experiences have come a long way and are continuing to improve. Customers receive push notifications and emails that inspire them to make a purchase, and then they can go ahead and make the purchase with just one swipe. A message is sent, and less than a minute later, that product could be on its way. There is no time for the consumer to second guess or lose interest, and the brand’s buying cycle just became 3 minutes. Back in the days of catalogues, this cycle was up to six months. It took that long to create a catalogue and get it into the hands of a customer, who would then browse it on their own time, and then–hopefully–place an order.

Information is power, and consumers have it

We’ve all heard the notion that information is power, and before mobile devices, brands had the power. It was difficult for customers to get information about other prices or similar items when they were standing in a store. Comparison shopping involved physically going to a different store to track down a point of comparison.

Smartphones put a huge amount of information at consumers’ fingertips, and therefore give them more power. If they do not like the price of an item, they can do a Google search and find it at a lower price through a different merchant, or find it pre-worn through marketplaces like eBay, Tradesy, and Poshmark. A Google study found that 84% of mobile shoppers use their phones in store to help with shopping. Mobile devices empower people to find the best option for them, no matter where they are. That makes decision-making easier and more efficient.

Building loyalty

Engaging with consumers, on mobile or otherwise, is about more than the immediate purchase. A brand’s ultimate goal is to bring that customer back and build long-term loyalty. Loyalty programs that run on mobile allow brands to target customers with offers that are relevant and have value in the moment. For example, a coupon that shows up on their phone once they enter the store, or a points program that automatically tallies when they make a purchase. Those kinds of personal interactions strengthen the relationship between brand and consumers, and help turn occasional customers into your biggest fans.

It doesn’t matter whether you sell toilet paper, second-hand designer clothing, or concert tickets — developing a strong mobile presence is a necessary part of appealing to today’s consumer. Shoppers today are constantly bombarded with marketing messages and have come to expect instant gratification. This means brands only have a few seconds to bring customers from passion to purchase, but in this mobile-first world, that is all they need. ‘Tis but the work of a moment.

What other ways do you think mobile shopping apps can make the check-out process easier?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article was written by Adam Marchick from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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