by Marc Schmitt
“Mobile first” may sound like a platitude by now. 40 per cent of all E-commerce purchases are influenced by mobile use, according to Florian Hermsdorf, Senior Project Manager at the E-Commerce Competence Center of Otto Group. That means that smartphones or tablets are part of the purchase decision-making process. It is therefore surprising that 20 per cent of Top 100 online retailers have not established a mobile shop at all. They risk becoming irrelevant for a part of their customers. Remarkable: The industry is focusing on smartphone optimization while tablets do not get special attention anymore. Consensus is that a touch optimized website for the desktop is sufficient to be used for a tablet device as well. The platitude could well change: from “mobile first” to “smartphone first”.
Apps for brand supporters
Most of the downloaded apps are not destined to live long: 70 per cent of them are uninstalled within the first 30 days, says Christian Drehkopf, Head of Mobile Shop at Zalando. If applications survive this period, they have made an important step: There is a good chance they belong to the 10 to 12 apps that the average user integrates into his daily life and accesses regularly. Zalando wants to enter this elite circle, Drehkopf revealed in his speech. Therefore the online retailer realigns its mobile strategy and will from now on aim at continuous engagement rather than short-term conversion boosting. For this purpose the clothing shop has established special teams that constantly update the app’s content. The user will be offered fresh content every day.
Understanding the customer
Companies now do their utmost to understand their customers better. From analytics evaluation, target group interviews, persona development, prototyping tests and usability tests through to multivariate tests and ongoing optimization in live operation: the whole UX-methods-portfolio is on the table. Often this happens in internal online departments specifically created for that purpose – like the Otto Group recently did.
The internet is vanishing
It’s been a trend for years: the borders between online and offline are blurring. Stationary, desktop and mobile – the channels are merging. In theory everyone agrees. In practice everyone is fighting a hard struggle. At least more and more retailers dare to experiment. Fashion company Bogner recently opened its first digital store “weShop” at Brienner Straße in Munich. The customer gets his initial information online. In store he shows his preferred product with his smartphone. In the intelligent changing room he is advised by a magic mirror where he can virtually try fitting pieces. The product is comfortably sent to his home. eBay also has tested its first concept store together with Metro Group. The retailers’ intention: If the customer has every touch point he needs, he is going to shop more.
But it is also evident that this change costs companies a lot of money and effort. Ralf Mager, Head of E-Commerce of traditional Munich clothing store Lodenfrey, gave deep insights. He took part in a round table with other traditional retailers (Sport Schuster, Ludwig Beck, Bettenrid) located at Marienplatz in Munich city centre. Asked if E-commerce pays off, Mager simply responded: “No”. He then specified that financially the restructuring of IT and internal processes does not pay off. Image-wise E-commerce is justified according to Mager, though. The online restructuring brings more customers to the store, says Mager. Some of those traditional retailers have existed for over 100 years. You can notice the pain they feel adjusting to modern times. But at least they try.