How 5 retailers are encouraging mobile sales

Smartphone use is on the rise, but there still remains a gap when it comes to buyers committing to a purchase on their mobile devices.

mobile shopping

Most customers prefer to use them for product discovery and customer support  but as the next generation of consumer prefers texting and chat as methods of communication, it is critical that retailers make customer support and communication easier for these shoppers by going to where they are, be it on on social messaging apps or text.

US e-tailer Everlane was one of the first retailers to use the Facebook Messenger app for business purchases. When customers who are connected to the brand via Facebook are asked if they would like to be updated about their order via Messenger.

Once a thread is opened, all communication about a product purchase or delivery is accessible in one place. This improves convenience for the buyer, but also allows the brand to view all prior communication in one place.

More than half of Zalora’s average daily transactions now happen on mobile devices. SMS and messenger apps have a central role in the company’s strategy, both from a campaigns and customer service perspective.

In the Philippines, Zalora has met the needs of the local market and integrated the two-way SMS reply technology into its customer support system to ensure a reliable and customer-friendly purchase and returns process.

Nordstrom has brought the simplicity of text and messaging-style communications into its app. The high-end department store operator decided to implement the functionality when it found that more than a third of its customers prefer to be contacted via text.

Customers or in-store sales associates can initiate a conversation using TextStyle. If shoppers like any of the items suggested, they can purchase by replying “buy”, along with a unique code.

The transaction is completed using the customer’s account information and is shipped out directly. The strategy ensures that all data collected via conversations and transactions is kept in-house, which gives it the potential to gain deeper insight on customer behaviours and deepen the mobile experience.

Online retailer Zulily targets young mothers with its flash sales model. In the third quarter of 2014, it reached a mobile milestone, when more than 50% of all its North American orders were made via a mobile device for the first time.

Given the nature of its business model, Zulily mainly uses email, text and mobile apps to engage with its customer base. It was also an early adopter of Facebook Messenger for business, using it mainly as a one-to-one communications channel. In the first four months of use, the retailer sent out more than 400,000 order confirmations.

Text-to-buy is becoming an increasingly attractive channel for smaller brands and retailers.

Stefan’s Head is one retailer that has attracted a lot of attention for its business model, emerging as an ecommerce operator popular among young men who aspire to be part of something elusive and cool.

Describing itself as a “text message list for the curious” it features limited product runs, exclusive collaborations and secret events, which are listed online but only sold via SMS.

To participate, potential users text Stefan, who decides if they’re right for the list and and will receive texts of new drops. Recipients wishing to complete a purchase are sent a link via mobile payments platform Stripe to make a secure payment and share delivery details.

By Petah Marian, senior editor, Retail Intelligence, WSGN