Mobile shopping innovators from across Europe gathered in central London for two days of inspirational talks and workshops earlier this month. The Mobile Shopping conference and exhibition shone a spotlight on the extent to which m-commerce has progressed in the last decade. Attendees came away with insights into what leading brands and retailers are aspiring to next, when it comes to mastering the mobile proposition.
Speakers from Facebook, ASOS, Lidl, Google, John Lewis, Tui Group, Virgin Media, Amazon and more explored how the channel is advancing, the challenges faced and key learnings achieved in recent years. Chaired by Chris Field, CEO of Retail Connections, the event included panel discussions examining the imperative of driving conversions through the mobile shopping channel, while keeping customers fully engaged and secure.
Sponsors of the event – including Apptentive, branch, Content Square and Urban Airship – had experts on hand to showcase the latest solutions that are underpinning m-commerce capability and content today.
The challenge of legacy systems
There’s no denying that m-commerce is battling with a host of challenges, despite the channel being considered the fastest growing in retail. Broadly, there was discussion about a lack of the necessary funding and manpower required to drive real wins with mobile shopping. At the heart of this is the issue of legacy systems, and Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of E-commerce at shoe retailer Schuh gave a gratefully-received presentation on how proprietary systems can hold back progress, and lead to lost sales and frustrated customers. He outlined how Schuh had undergone 18 months of re-writing systems to get rid of dead or ‘zombie’ code, and bring systems up to date. The m-commerce platform has subsequently seen down-time reduced to virtually nothing, with data safely stored in the cloud, and page loading problems all but eliminated.
In search of simplicity
David Ironside, Senior Product Manager at ASOS.com explored the issue of simplicity, asking: ‘How can you further enhance your UX with visual search functionalities that take personalised product discovery to the next level?’ His fascinating talk took delegates through ‘the discovery problem’ and revealed how even after a major overhaul of search usability, ASOS customers and the press were initially unimpressed with changes introduced. He talked about ASOS’s introduction of visual search last year, saying this is on track to improve search success by 40% for users of the site. He predicts a big move away from typing in search terms in favour of shoppers snapping images on their phones wherever they happen to be, and searching with these. “Consumers will come to think: ‘I have an image and that’s all I need now to find a product’,” he said.
Optimising customer engagement
Search and usability were constant themes, with speakers and workshop discussions focused on where and how improvements should be made. Jenna Swire, Head of Product for holiday website OnTheBeach gave powerful examples of how to design specifically for the small screen.
On a similar theme, Day Two’s morning keynote delivered by Mario Viviani, Technology Evangelist, Amazon covered voice search. In what he described as the new frontier in online discovery, he posed the question: How can you blend your visual digital services with voice, to provide the optimum customer UX?
Julie Austin, Head of Ecommerce at Mamas & Papas certainly has her eye on the future. She entertained delegates on Day Two with a ‘Futuristic Case Study’, discussing how to better engage with your shopper’s on their personal devices. Her thinking is that much more attention must be given to meet expectations of increasingly tech-savvy customers and drive conversions on big ticket items.
Discovery replacing demand
Perhaps the most thought-provoking speaker of the event was Daryl Hughes, Head of E-commerce and Retail at Facebook/Instagram. His contention was that today’s fast growing retail businesses don’t wait for demand, they create it. He spoke of buying a high tech water bottle on the back of ‘discovering’ it on social media. “Consumers want brands to find them products they didn’t even know they wanted,” he said. He spoke of the advancement of social feeds from text, to image, to video and predicted that “AR and VR will soon make up the bulk of feed content”. To keep up with disruptors in the social selling market, traditional retailers have their work cut out, was his central and very powerful message.
The Mobile Shopping conference provided a window on the future of m-commerce, and the kinds of innovations that will shape it. Find out more about the event, and future similar events here.
You can download the Maximising Mobile benchmarking report here. Retailers facing the next stage of m-commerce investment, fine-tuning and growth will find the report an excellent benchmarking tool.