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4 Ways to Leverage the Smartphone This Holiday Season

This article - authored by Chief E-commerce Strategist, Larry Kavanagh - was originally published here by Multichannel Merchant.

Visits from shoppers on a smartphone continue to rise for ecommerce sites. Most retailers have responded by implementing a 'mobile-friendly' version of their site with reduced graphics and simplified navigation. The website detects the device a shopper is using and automatically routes to the mobile site when appropriate.

While mobile-friendly design has improved the shopping experience, conversion rates still hover at about 20-25% of what shoppers using bigger monitors produce. As a result, sales on smartphones make up only 1-2% of online revenue for many etailers.

Here are a few suggestions to better leverage your existing small screen traffic:

Test different page layouts

Rue La La reported recently that small screen devices are producing more than 15% of their sales. While this includes sales from their iPhone app, there is much to learn from their mobile site.

Rue La La takes a very different approach to navigation and selling than most etailers. Instead of the mobile-friendly standard of text navigation on the home page, they show images to represent categories.

As a result, the home page scrolls vertically further down than most mobile sites. Their checkout also has a different format. It's a cross between the one-page checkout used on many big screen sites and the multi-step checkout common on smartphones.

Given that their percentage of sales from smartphones is 5-to-10 times larger than most e-commerce sites, it's worth testing a different template.

Generate call center orders

Smartphones have tremendous functionality. They can play music, surf the web, text friends, provide directions, and much more. Here's an important feature to use to maximize mobile commerce... they can also make phone calls.

Make your 800 number prominent on every page of your mobile site (preferably on the upper right hand side) and make it 'click to call.' Use a different phone number than the one on your big screen website so you can track these orders back to your mobile site.

You need to know the real number of orders and dollars you've received through small screen devices so that you can make good decisions about how much time, energy and money to spend on your mobile site.

Drive traffic to your retail stores

Email a coupon to shoppers who live within driving distance of your retail stores. The shopper can either print out the coupon, or, better yet, show it in store for a discount or a special price on a particular item.

Build your email file by promoting your 'smartphone coupon' program in the store. If a shopper in checkout wants a coupon, give it to them in exchange for an email address. You can even print a QR code that sends a shopper to an email sign-up page on your mobile site.

Make sure to capture how many of these virtual coupons are redeemed. Note: you can use this email file to also promote your regular, in-store specials. You don't have to give away something special to your smartphone store shoppers all the time, though you should mix in a few exclusives to keep the program interesting!

Offer to email (or text if you have the capability) the receipt to store shopper

An electronic receipt is more convenient for some shoppers. It also gives you the opportunity to put a coupon, like the one described above, on the emailed receipt.

Smartphones have produced significantly more economic benefit in areas outside of hard and soft goods e-commerce. Resolve this holiday season to take action to turn your small screen traffic into bigger profits.

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