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A new research paper on the future of mobile commerce, published by Strategy Analytics, reveals that 67% of smartphone owners use their phones to find deals and compare prices. But the actual point of purchase is the least popular activity on all mobile devices. Mobile clearly can’t be ignored as a channel to attract and interact with customers, but what should retailers be doing about mobile payments?

Many retailers are wrestling with the challenges set by increasingly mobile customers. But “mobile” itself may be a bit of a red herring. “Mobile” shoppers will most likely fall into one of three camps:

1. at home
2. in store
3. out and about

And that’s the key: creating a mobile strategy that meets the needs of customers at a particular time and place – putting things into context.

On location

There’s a general trend among people browsing at home, away from desktop computers and towards tablets. It’s easy to understand why, as tablets are both more convenient and more engaging than PCs, while having bigger screens than smartphones.

But once these “Downton Abbey shoppers” leave the house, they’re more likely to resort to a mobile phone. It’ll be this device that your customers carry into your store – and that changes the dynamic.

It’s all about identifying opportunities to add value and improve the experience at each stage.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Why are they using a smartphone? While they’re out and about they’ll expect quick and easy access to information about your nearest store and available stock. In the store they might benefit from store layout help, easy access to further product information or current offers – through things such as QR codes, which make jumping off to sites easier and quicker on a mobile.

Special effects

Of course, retail is all about securing the sale. But one thing that came through loud and clear at NRF this year was the fact that new payments technologies have to make the consumer’s life simpler and easier. So, while there’s a lot of noise about mobile payments, technologies such as NFC – one of the main contenders for linking mobile phones and payments – aren’t necessarily putting the interests of the customer first.

However they choose to pay, customers want a frictionless process wherever they are – and that’s one of the stumbling blocks with mobile at the moment.

The fact is, retailers can take money quite easily in-store just now. NFC for payments in store is not a problem that needs to be solved. That doesn’t mean NFC has no role to play in store, but its strength may lie elsewhere, for example, as a way to provide easy access to information and offers through in-store contact points.

Big budget production

So how do you solve the problem of mobile payments? There were three main approaches put forward at NRF:

1. The ‘wallet in the cloud’ – led by PayPal and Google
2. The mobile device – championed by NFC technology suppliers
3. Direct transfer exchanges – run by retailers fed up paying the middle men

Strategy Analytics’ research into NFC reveals: “The ramp up is extremely slow and even years from now we are expecting only a minority of consumers will use mobile payments; 158M users, or 2.9% of total cellular users in 2017.”

If we once again put ourselves in the shoes of the consumer and ask what’s best for them, the wallet in the cloud seems to be the most convenient. It promises a frictionless payment experience regardless of channel, and customers can bundle loyalty cards and e-vouchers. But this still doesn’t help with the here and now.

Out now!

There’s no future proof answer to mobile payments as the dance between the different technologies and approaches plays out. But what is clear from these latest findings is that it’s vital that you take mobile seriously and build a solid foundation for your mobile channel.

Just now, that means ensuring your mobile channels provide a brand experience consistent with your other channels. And creating a mobile friendly site that’s designed to meet the needs of mobile users – so that it works on a smaller screen, with the most appropriate information brought to the fore and easy to access (through bigger buttons and simpler buying steps).

Like most other aspects of retail, it’s all about having the right things in the right place, at the right time.

Video: Watch a BBC report on NFC, mobiles and e-wallets

Posted by Jason Shorrock, Product Director, BT Expedite

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Jigsaw24 is the largest supplier of Apple products to the UK’s creative industry. With such tech savvy customers, the company’s site needed to hit the mark in terms of its UI (user interface) and the experience of using the site for research, advice and purchasing.

Having ordered Apple products through Jigsaw24 ourselves, we knew that it has fantastic customer service and expert advisors, and a strong, unique brand identity. However the website was letting the side down – the navigation was difficult to use, requiring many more clicks than you’d hope to get to the product you want, and the bold brand wasn’t coming through, either in terms of look and feel or the customer experience.

Reflecting the brand

So, that became the basis of the brief: create a site that was an extension of the way customers interact with the brand elsewhere – through friendly and knowledgeable staff and print design work that captures the vibrant brand in a market that can seem dry and where products often look much the same. Being intuitive and easy to use was paramount.

The key was to consider all of these things while designing and building each part of the site.

We made use of the core brand elements: a strong orange, an informal hand-drawn script typeface (drawn by the design team at Jigsaw24 themselves) along with illustrations in the same loose style and friendly photos of the actual people you’d be dealing with. It all came together in a site which is eye-catching and modern while also being clear and friendly.

From browsing to buying

Look and feel is one thing, but what the site really needed was to make the find-and-buy process a breeze. A pleasure even. In order to achieve this we used clear navigation, intuitive and intelligent filtering on list pages (that change according to the product-set) and a slick product comparison tool.

All of this means that any product list page feels customised to the products being shown (from the vast catalogue), while comparing that long list of all-important specs is very easy.

“With an abundance of information, it’s sometimes hard for customers buying technology to decide on the product right for them,” says Matt Duncan, Head of Client Services at BT Fresca, “but with the enhanced search and filtering ability on the new website, customers can make an informed decision by comparing multiple product choices.”

We hope we’ve provided a website that shows just how ‘Insanely great’ Jigsaw24 really is.

http://www.jigsaw24.com/

Posted by Dean Taylor, Head of Creative. BT Expedite & Fresca

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