Brands must embrace a mobile-first approach if they hope to align with current consumer expectations and habits. For retailers in particular, mobile offers substantial opportunity to drive brand loyalty, boost foot traffic and expand basket size. Even as mobile sites become more sophisticated and user-friendly, a good number of brands are still under-investing in mobile capabilities. L2 researchers still encounter some hiccups — broken videos, inaccurate geolocation or broken store locators, and broken links that work on desktop sites — that undermine the mobile experience and a widespread failure to maximize the potential of mobile. Brands looking to increase their mobile IQ can start with these four fundamentals.

1. Enhance SEO and SEM for mobile

According to Google, 55 percent of consumers using mobile to research purchases want to buy within the hour, and 83 percent want to purchase within a day. As search marketing approaches an inflection point favoring mobile, brands can no longer afford to simply mirror desktop efforts.

Retailers have been slow to engage in SEO and SEM efforts that adequately cater to mobile shoppers signaling local intent. The chief mistake is failing to activate two key timesaving features: incorporating store locators in paid search ads and click-to-call buttons, which reportedly yield an 8% increase in click-through rates. In L2’s 2014 Intelligence Report on Mobile and Tablet, American Eagle Outfitters, Harry Winston and UNIQLO were among the mere handful of brands observed embedding links to mapping apps that identify nearby stores — anticipating a mobile user’s most common demand.

Who’s doing it well: Early adopters of best practices here include Genius brands Tory Burch and Shinola — mobile search pulls up click-to-call and a direct link to the nearest store — and L.L.Bean, whose mobile ad also features click-to-call functionality and a deep link to the store locator. UNIQLO’s mobile ad shows a “get directions” link that launches Google Maps, centering on
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2. Minimize clicks and navigation

As noted above, embedding click-to-call buttons and store locators is important because they minimize the interactions required for mobile consumers to retrieve key customer service information. Beyond this best practice, mobile design must simplify the desktop experience for users. For instance, digitally competent brands highlight fewer menu options.

The checkout process is a key area that requires rethinking for mobile. Among Specialty Retailers in the L2 Index, fewer than 40% of checkout experiences on a tablet consolidate all required steps on a single page, requiring back-and-forth navigation versus more intuitive up-and-down scrolling. Just 27% of Sportswear brands support an efficient, single-page checkout process on tablets. Seamless mobile payment via Apple Pay or other systems (PayPal, etc.) greatly speed up in-app payments once consumers have completed the initial inputting of their payment information.

Who’s doing it well: Product result pages on Kohl’s mobile site display alternate colors and user review summaries, without the need to click into a product page. Louis Vuitton’s mobile site includes the option to check out with PayPal, shrinking the 20-plus clicks required to execute an order to just five. On tablets, David Yurman consolidates each step of the extended checkout process on a single page.

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3. Leverage unique mobile capabilities

Tablets and smartphones offer more advanced functionality than desktop, but many brands fail to leverage tools and functions unique to mobile. For instance, only 37% of Specialty Retail brands in the L2 Index utilize the phone’s camera, which enables interaction with items found in-store.

Who’s doing it well: Home Depot, which launched a mobile site and app back in 2010, offers unique utility like barcode recognition and voice search. Currently in beta, a new feature in Home Depot’s iOS app lets shoppers engage in visual search: If users don’t know the name of a part they want to replenish, they can snap a photo of it to generate results listing similar items stocked by Home Depot. The Macy’s app is among those that let in-store shoppers scan products to check availability and add them to wish lists or gift registries. Walmart’s innovative Savings Catcher app lets users scan their receipts within a week of purchase. The Savings Catcher then compares prices against those advertised by local competitors and automatically applies store credit if a competitor beats a Walmart price.

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4. Assist in-store shoppers

Mobile can help to drive foot traffic and increase basket size by making in-store visits easier and faster. Retailers are doing this with features like store maps that sync with a consumer’s shopping list for guided navigation or the ability to easily access information about products. In-store shoppers will increasingly rely on mobile for coupons — the ability to easily download them and redeem discounts in-store will soon become table stakes for retailers, especially in the Big Box sector.

Who’s doing it well: Target’s app provides aisle-by-aisle navigation to the exact location of products on the user’s shopping list. In addition, Target’s Cartwheel couponing app lets users add up to 15 offers in one “cart,” even piling them on top of other coupons, sales and REDcard savings. Upon in-store checkout, the cart’s digital barcode is scanned through the app or to draw immediate savings. Walgreens provides floor plans within its app, sends push notifications when orders are ready (e.g., for pharmacy and photo services), and enables easy clipping and scanning of mobile coupons. The North Face app integrates a barcode and QR code scanner so that in-store shoppers can easily retrieve user reviews, find alternate colors and sizes, and glean additional product information — reinforcing consumer confidence in the item at hand.

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