Mobile First Strategy is Key to eCommerce Success

As more and more retailers go online, it's vital to remember that not all eCommerce platforms are created equal. Even the most sophisticated software won't do your business much good if one crucial piece is lacking: a mobile first strategy.  

This is true for two major reasons:

  1. Consumer behavior. More and more people are shopping via their phone rather than a computer. According to eMarketer, over 90% of consumer time spent online occurs on a smartphone. As of May 2019, worldwide mobile market share is over 50%, compared to the market share for desktop, which is 44%.

  2. Changes in back-end technology. In spring 2018, Google rolled out "mobile-first indexing," which signaled a phasing-out of code written for websites, and an ushering in mobile-friendly design. That means that code written for mobile devices would get priority in search engines over desktop code. Despite this, many businesses are still creating their web presence for desktop first, and then trying to optimize it for mobile devices. That's called a mobile-responsive strategy, and to put it simply, it doesn't work. It often results in glitches when viewed on a mobile device, and that poses a barrier between a business and its customers.

For grocers, the stakes are high. Online grocery sales are projected to reach almost $30 billion by 2021, and grocery-related mobile apps are among the fastest growing in the country. In 2018, around 18 million Americans used a grocery app at least once a month, which is up nearly 50% from 2017. Analysts project that by 2019's end, over 22.6 million smartphone users will place an order by app (for a year-over-year growth of 25.6%), with that number climbing to 30.4 million by 2022. Mobile is predicted to generate revenues of $188.9 billion in 2020, with much of that growth being driven by the eGrocery sector.

Kroger was one of the first grocers to invest in its mobile technology. Since launching its mobile strategy in 2010, the Cincinnati-based mega-store has aggressively updated their app and tested out new features, paving the way for customers to learn to use a grocery app, and stimulating the growth of app-based technology.

Amazon, too, is responsible for much of the growth. Since its 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods, the tech giant has brought its enormous digital power to the grocery sector. Whole Foods' app has increased its active monthly users 750% over the last two years.

In short, grocery sales are going online, and staying ahead of the competition means a mobile-first strategy. Yet many retailers still view their apps as merely an extension of their website. That's a lost opportunity, says market research firm Forrester, and it could be costing your business dearly.

So how can a grocer rise above its competitors?

First, make sure your design is as user-friendly as possible, accommodating shoppers who are on mobile devices as well as desktop. That means offering features and capabilities that address the difference in how customers use mobile versus desktop.  

Second, go big. The most successful grocery mobile experiences are more than just an online store that looks good on a smartphone. There's a wealth of opportunity here for grocers to add value by saving customers time, money, and energy.

Here are some examples of how a mobile experience might do that:

  • Loyalty. Customers want the ability to check their store accounts when they’re on the go. How many punches away from a free coffee? How many dollars shy from a $5 cash back reward? Are there any special discounts they can use before they submit their order? Apps can also assist shoppers in picking up prescriptions, opt-in for alerts on price changes, and get app-exclusive coupons and savings. By presenting a user-friendly and visually appealing mobile interface that customers can use both in-store and online, you generate a better customer experience.  

  • Offering various fulfillment options. By now, this is old news in eGrocery, but it bears repeating: when it comes to fulfillment, customers want choice. This means not only offering options like home delivery, click-and-collect, but also allowing customers to pay for their items in-store by scanning each one with their device. Many large-scale grocers, from Kroger to Walmart to B.J.’s Wholesale Club, are instituting a “scan & go” payment system, which many customers are quick to embrace.

  • Expediting pick-up in click-and-collect by alerting store employees upon a customer's arrival. Some grocers pair this feature with dedicated parking spots for click-and-collectors, making pick-up a breeze (for the shopper, anyway, as it requires extra labor for the grocer).

  • Using image recognition combined with AI  to provide sophisticated services, which can deliver personalized recipes, suggestions, and product recommendations based on a shopper’s preferences and purchase history. This provides customers with

The bottom line is this: in today's market, grocers need to create a mobile-first eCommerce platform. Your web presence must be friendly, navigable, intuitive, and sophisticated in order to retain market share and keep customers coming back for more.

Last but not least, your online presence must not compromise on one vital thing: your brand.

Outsourcing a digital platform is a wise business choice for many grocers, but only if the third-party provider has the capacity to support and prioritize your business's unique brand - or else you risk losing marketing appeal and valuable customer relations to another company. To learn more about locai can provide your grocery business with a mobile-first online platform that strengthens your brand and grows your bottom line, click here.