Mobile media: How retailers are engaging with customers through their smartphones

By Karin Kelley

| Retail

In 2016, US online retail sales reached nearly USD 2 billion on Thanksgiving Day alone, according to a GeekWire story on Adobe research. That’s up 15.6 percent from 2015. Additionally, 54 percent of overall customer visits and 39 percent of purchases came from mobile devices. To reach this new customer base, retailers have been investing heavily in mobile media, particularly photos and videos that give potential customers the information they need in a mobile-friendly fashion.

The rise of mobile media

According to Smart Insights, today’s consumers are already spending more time using mobile devices compared to desktops. In the US alone, users now spend 51 percent of their time viewing media on their mobile devices, compared to 42 percent on their desktops. Though this trend will have an impact on all industries that are going digital, it presents a massive opportunity for retailers to drive more sales across all channels. In other words, retailers can provide multimedia content to users wherever they are and whenever they happen to be using their mobile devices. To get an idea of the scale of this opportunity, take a walk around San Francisco’s Union Square and experience how many shoppers bump into you because they’re busy gazing at their smartphones or other connected devices.

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Why mobile media works

For all of its advantages, the fact that e-commerce is conducted in a virtual environment means there are inherent limitations. Customers can’t physically hold or experience how the product works, feels or fits. Providing a photo can help users get a better idea of what the product looks like and its size, but video can take this one step further by actually demonstrating how the product works and how users can interact with it. In addition, people are more likely to purchase a product if others have given it positive reviews, so video testimonials are another great way to engage with customers. Encouraging customers to post their own video testimonials is another cost-effective way to generate marketing content.

Retailers can also take advantage of the fact that video is the most highly shared type of content on social media platforms to promote their brands. After all, it’s very easy to consume in a short amount of time, and that’s what today’s connected, mobile consumers are interested in. Additionally, videos can be uploaded to multiple social networks quickly and easily to spread the brand message to larger audiences by leveraging SEO.

Increasing conversion rates

Media is already becoming increasingly saturated with images and videos, and retailers have a massive opportunity to spread their brands. Though images are still essential, companies are finding that conversion rates are higher when video is used. In fact, Ready Cloud reported that online equestrian supplies retailer, Ariat, claimed it has experienced an increase in conversion rates of 160 percent from visits in which a video was viewed. In addition, according to Google, Best Buy’s in-store mobile initiative has resulted in over 1 million store visits, a 44 percent increase in website traffic and an overall increase in ROI and market share. This initiative features tutorial videos that the company uploads to YouTube to educate customers on their purchasing decisions.

There’s no question that mobile media is essential for retailers in today’s hyperconnected, on-demand world. Though retailers are already making significant steps to attract and retain customers through multimedia, more interactive media and augmented reality are expected to be on the horizon, too.

Photo by: iStock

Written By

Karin Kelley

Independent Analyst & Writer

Karin is an independent industry analyst and writer, with over 10 years experience in information technology. She focuses on cloud infrastructure, hosted applications and services, end user computing and related systems management software and services. She spent nearly eight years…

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