The Power of Couch Commerce: 3 Steps for Turning Mobile Browsers into Buyers

Smartphone and tablet proliferation is accelerating rapidly, and with more and more devices in the hands of consumers, an exciting new mobile trend has emerged – “couch commerce” – in which shoppers search for the best deals on their mobile devices from the comfort of their own homes. So what do we know about couch commerce? For one, any retailer not seriously considering how to optimize its mobile strategy this year will miss an incredible opportunity to engage its most valued customers, literally whenever and wherever they want to shop.
There are some remarkable stats on couch commerce, indicating 2012 will see another explosion of mobile shopping, especially during the holiday season. 
Consider Forrester’s finding that the web is cannibalizing Black Friday sales; 80% of online buyers surveyed said they prefer to shop online rather than go to crowded stores during Thanksgiving weekend. Another striking stat: mobile market tracker Flurry Analytics estimates 6.8 million mobile devices were activated last Christmas vs. about 2.8 million in 2010, more than 100% growth. With new devices flooding the market, and more inexpensive mobile device categories emerging, we can expect continued acceleration.
Beyond sheer growth, it’s interesting to look at the differences between shopping on tablets vs. smartphones. For instance, according to research from Adobe, average conversion rates on smartphones were just 0.8%, compared with 2.3% on tablets and 2.5% on computers (survey of 16.2 Billion visits to 150 retail websites). This underscores how important it is for retailers to support the full range of channels and devices that shoppers want to use.
A successful mobile strategy also depends on having a “mobile first” mindset and holistic approach that prioritizes user interface and experience. For example, by providing personalized, customer service centric experiences and seamless browsing, shopping and checkout, mobile shopping sessions are more likely to convert to sales. Despite the opportunity, developing mobile applications with this level of optimization can be a trying task for retailers, who often struggle with the complexities of the mobile landscape.
Now you may be asking, how can my brand optimize its applications to gain more satisfied mobile shoppers who become buyers instead of browsers? I’ve laid out three easy steps below that if taken into consideration, will enable your organization to reach and engage target customers.
1. Use Cutting Edge Mobile Platform Technology
I recommend putting a strong technological framework in place to strengthen your brand’s mobile offerings. With the right mobile platform technology, your brand can seamlessly develop feature-rich applications for all technologies and devices – that includes the 9,000 devices, 7 operating systems, and 15 browsers on the market today. The result? A superior user interface and experience, with optimized applications for any device whether it is Apple, Blackberry or Android.
2. Say Goodbye to the Cookie Cutter Application
I continually hear complaints from mobile shoppers about the lack of differentiation amongst their favorite applications. Why not invest in a mobile solution that enables the development of applications that will make you stand out against the competition? I suggest using company branding such as logos and colors to bring your application to life. Industry-specific functionality is also key. Some feature examples to consider include: feature-rich transitions, a search or GPS enabled store locator, fast download rates, secure checkout and app cache. The result? Mobile shoppers come to you first because of the superior shopping experience.
3. Keep Your Customers Coming Back For More
Now that you have the right technological framework and a unique mobile shopping experience in place, the next step is the offering. According to Localytics, 26% of the time customers do not launch a mobile application more than once. So, how do we combat this, especially in an environment where shoppers are savvier than ever before? I suggest providing them with relevant deals, personalized offers, loyalty programs and the tools needed to browse an entire catalog and use filters to search for specific products. Moreover, give them the control to manage how and when they receive these promotions and redeem deals. The result? More visits and more purchases.
With more consumers using their mobile devices to visit their favorite retail sites from the comfort of their own couches, possibly while simultaneously watching their favorite TV sitcom, it is more crucial now than ever before for retail companies to seriously consider how best to engage their mobile shoppers. By following the three steps laid out above, your organization will be on its way to converting site visits into sales.
Sriram Ramanathan is the chief technology officer for Kony Solutions.

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