Why Retailers Should Optimize Mobility at the Edge for Better Customer Experience


Retailers today face massive competition from adversaries that aren’t even directly in the retail space, such as social media platforms. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for social media platforms to leverage short bursts of 15-second video to capture and market to younger audiences. How can retailers, especially those that are only beginning to adopt branded mobile apps, get a leg up on the speed and nuances of social-driven and AI-powered marketing?

The answer lies in mobile optimization. The fact is, mobile is outpacing desktop, and this trend is here to stay when it comes to online orders. With that, it’s critical that retailers take the necessary steps to get up to speed on enhancing their mobile customer experiences (CX) because “slow” is the new “down.” Case in point: 53% of people abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. Delivering mobile content at the edge will not only help retailers accelerate the performance of their sites across devices and browsers but can also enable seamless, consistent and more intelligent omni-digital service.

Here are some ways that retailers can begin optimizing mobile at the edge for better, faster and more personalized CX.

Your Competitive “Edge”

Approximately 85% of global internet users are within a single “network hop” of a reliable edge server. By offloading content onto an edge platform, retailers are able to bring their digital content as close to consumers as possible. For retailers, this means reduced latency, improved reliability and significant savings on infrastructure and bandwidth costs – not to mention enhanced customer engagement.

This is critical when you consider that customers are increasingly spending more time – 18 times more, to be specific – on branded apps than on mobile sites. This means retailers are missing out on a massive revenue driver if they don’t optimize their apps for user engagement. Integrating impactful features (like quality video and images to engage browsers) and next-gen technologies (like AI to personalize and localize recommendations) into mobile apps can help retailers strengthen relationships with existing customers and encourage them to spend more money, while winning over new customers from competitors.

Optimizing Video & Images

Today’s social-savvy and visually-driven consumers want to feel fully immersed in the browsing and purchasing process. This includes everything from finding the perfect pair of shoes virtually – like through Nike’s new AR feature on its app, which helps shoppers find the perfect shoe size without physically trying them on – or watching videos online of how to customize their bridesmaids dress (halter or one sleeve?) or arrange their new sectional furniture to ensure it fits in their space, before delivery.

With that, video content is becoming an important way for retailers to ingrain customers into the buying process for their products and services. What’s more, shoppers have high expectations for retailers’ image and video content and, according to eMarketer, US digital shoppers expect an average of about six images and three videos when looking at a product on an online product page.

In order to ensure a seamless and speedy experience, it’s critical that retailers upload video content to edge servers so that they are delivering content optimized with the speed, quality, resolution and tailored formats consumers expect – on mobile and across devices and browsers.

Localized Personalization

Walking into your local coffee shop and having the barista place your “usual” on the counter without even placing an order isn’t as antiquated as it sounds. At least, it doesn’t have to be, as retailers begin to leverage AI to offer consumers hyper-personalized experiences based on their location data. And by tapping the power of the edge, retailers ensure that consumers are getting the personalized attention they crave almost instantly.

For example, retailers can target customers and anticipate their needs by honing in on their location. Sephora, for instance, notifies their app users after they get through airport security, asking if they need to replenish any recent purchases that TSA might have confiscated. Retailers can also use location data to drive previously taboo “showrooming” experiences, in which consumers browse products in-store while checking their phones for better deals online and are able to have the prices matched while in the store, providing instant gratification.

More retailers (like Best Buy) are jumping on this trend as findings show that 57% of consumers of all ages are using mobile apps to enhance their in-store experience. By partnering with online shopping conglomerates like Amazon, Best Buy and other traditional brick-and-mortar stores can still get credit for the sale, even if the purchase is made online. This “try in-store” model enables in-store browsers to test and potentially purchase other products they didn’t intend on buying.

These are just a few examples of how retailers can enhance mobile experiences by delivering content at the edge. Looking ahead, hyper-personalized and localized experiences are likely to become even more competitive and targeted, as consumers increasingly leverage mobile apps and video to inform their purchases or product research. Optimizing content for seamless experiences across all devices is critical for retailers to drive customer engagement and maintain a competitive “edge.”

-Chris Wraight, Akamai

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