Why You Need to Pay Attention to the Mobilization of Retail
February 26, 2019
Todd Henderson

Why You Need to Pay Attention to the Mobilization of Retail

The world is mobilizing. And if you’re not part of it, you’re going to struggle to keep up.

It sounds like a bold claim, but the statistics back it up. Consider that 77% of Americans own a smartphone, for example. 80% of shoppers are now using mobile phones inside stores to look up products reviews before they make a purchase.

Suffice it to say, retail is more mobile than ever before.

But what does that mean for a brand like yours? Even if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar retail presence, you’d be surprised at what this “mobilization” of commerce is doing to brands of all types. Here are some reasons you should pay attention to an increasingly mobile world:

The Social Nature of Mobile Retail

If that statistic about shoppers surprised you, you’re not alone. Considering just how much smartphones have become an everyday part of our shopping experience, brands of all types need to think about how they come across via the mobile browser. In short: if customers are already looking at their phones before they make an in-store purchase, what else are they looking at before making key decisions?

As recently as 2017, mobile retail commerce constituted over a third of all retail eCommerce sales. Estimates suggest that mobile retail will become the majority of retail commerce by 2021, which indicates a trend that few brands can afford to ignore.

The more you sell online, the more you can expect to have to cater to the demands of the audience on their smartphones.

This means you’ll also have to deal with the social nature of mobile retail.


  • Customers check online reviews and update friends before purchasing. Although not every customer will make a buying decision until they’ve had a chance to check in on their smartphone, the practice is becoming more and more commonplace. Effective brands should take care to protect their online reviews and reputation to keep their brand prepared for the next level of mobile retail.
  • The demand for social proof is more intense than ever. With the high degree of connectivity in mobile retail, customers have every right to expect that they can check in with someone else before making a purchase. That makes it more important than ever to guard your online reputation.
  • How convenient is your site on mobile? How easy is it to share something you’ve just shared from your digital brand online? How easy is it to reach out to your customer support? These questions all affect your digital brand, and they all center on one basic question: the matter of convenience. The more you make your brand mobile-convenient, the more you’ll be able to leverage your social presence online.

But while these challenges might seem substantial, consider that there’s more to the story. Whenever there’s massive growth in an area like mobile retail, you can always find opportunities for greater success:

The Good News: Massive Growth and Opportunity

Remember that statistic about how much of all eCommerce retail is handled via mobile purchase? Then you won’t be surprised to learn that eMarketer believes that global eCommerce sales will reach over $4 trillion by 2020. That’s some 15% of all retail sales.

This trend points to the growing influence of eCommerce and the smartphone as it relates to consumer purchases and customer behavior. But while those numbers might be intimidating, you’d be surprised to find out how many brands have yet to catch up.

DynamicYield reports that only 12% of consumers find mobile web shopping convenient.

These two statistics demonstrate a central point that any digital brand—heavily involved in retail or not—can learn: while customers are moving quickly to eCommerce and mobile retail, not every brand is doing a great job of keeping up.

That means there are plenty of opportunities to be had as this sector of retail grows. The better your mobile presence, the greater your advantage over the competition. You don’t necessarily even have to make retail products to realize that there’s an opportunity here.

With an improved mobile presence, you’ll access a growing segment of any market. That doesn’t apply only to retail. As more and more users access digital brands from their smartphones, you’ll find yourself well positioned to take advantage of increased demand.

Ways to Make Your Brand More Mobile-Ready

What does it mean to be “more mobile”? How can your brand access a growing segment of the web without falling behind the trends?

In retail and eCommerce, the answers are simple: the easier it is for a user to shop on your mobile site, the more likely it is that you’re going to cast a wider mobile net and capture more of these customers.

What about digital brands that don’t necessarily rely on retail sales? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your website is mobile-ready. Be honest: when’s the last time you checked your website on mobile? Mobile-ready websites can be especially complicated for anyone who uses a non-hosted web design platform, or who created a customized web page. It may be time for you to reconsider your web presence and evaluate whether it’s truly mobile-capable.
  • Incorporate a retail-like experience into your mobile presence. Even if your brand doesn’t specialize in mobile retail, you can still utilize the principles of the mobile retail experience to enhance your online presence. For example, eCommerce companies are always looking for ways to simplify their checkout page to reduce customer friction. Are there similar “pain points” in your online infrastructure, such as a contact page, that can be simplified via mobile?
  • Encourage mobile social sharing. You might have no problem encouraging social sharing on a wide variety of your platforms, from your content marketing to your latest emails. But when your potential clients or customers access specific points of your website that they might share with others, can they easily click a button and share them on social media when they’re using a smartphone? This is another step to evaluate when considering your online presence.

Embracing Mobile Habits in the Retail Experience

The idea of retail becoming increasingly mobile might be worrisome for some brands that focus on brick-and-mortar buildings. But that doesn’t mean that the mobile experience is making these obsolete.

For example, Amazon Go has embraced the digital and mobile age by making a new investment into the brick-and-mortar retail space. The key innovation here is that Amazon Go utilizes mobile technology to make the in-person shopping experience more effective.

Other retail outlets are just as likely to capitalize on the increased use of smartphones in their customer base. For example, if a customer is already checking up on a specific product via mobile in the store, a retail brand might consider offering special discounts for this type of behavior via its mobile application. This doesn’t only invite the behavior, but it incentivizes the need to come into the brick-and-mortar store, where they might be more inclined to make point-of-sale purchases.

A customer bearing a smart phone doesn’t have to be a threat to the existence of retail. Even with the growth of eCommerce, the retail experience is still alive and well. In fact, brands like yours could enhance their customer experience by embracing these mobile habits.

How to Prepare for a Mobile Retail Environment

What can a digital brand do to prepare for a mobile retail environment—a future in technology where our lives will be handled via phone rather than tablet or desktop?

Here are a few tips for preparing your brand for the influx of mobile eCommerce:

  • Understand the platforms. Today’s top eCommerce platforms make it easy to shop on mobile. Platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify can do a lot to help a digital brand launch a retail side to their business. Understanding these tools and getting a sense of the retail environment as it relates to mobile shopping will help companies adapt to a future where smartphones begin to drive even more growth.
  • Expand your mobile marketing capacity. If you can expect more of your potential clients and customers to come through on mobile, then it only stands to reason that you’ll fare far better at marketing if you include a mobile element in your strategy. You don’t have to turn the mobile world upside down right away—but keep in mind that mobile marketing is more important than ever.
  • Plan, plan, plan. The next few years could define the world of retail as it changes and expands. More and more people will shop using unique devices—home voice-activated devices, smartphones, and the like. A brand should be prepared for this. But you don’t have to change everything overnight. Make a commitment to regular planning, implementing tools and strategies like new mobile marketing integrations, to expand your ability to deliver high-quality mobile content to people browsing your site.

Embracing a New Era of Retail

It’s said that the only constant in life is change. That’s certainly been true in retail, where the increased accessibility of mobile technology is promising brand-altering changes in the way we think about how we shop online. But if your company is adaptable, forward-thinking, and ready to embrace a new trend, you’ll find that not only can you prepare for these changes—you can transcend them.