Till a decade back, shopping was seen as a leisurely activity, and indulging oneself was seen as the mantra to boost one’s sagging morale. However, things have changed a lot since then.
In an increasingly globalized economy where frequent recession and inflation is the norm, many people juggle one or more jobs, along their personal and family lives. Shopping is no longer therapy, but becomes a luxury. And for the more privileged lot, shopping is more of a nuisance. Having to travel long distances amidst chaotic traffic to reach your favorite store, wading through crowds at the store, and shopping fatigue (not knowing how much to buy) can put off even the most avid shopaholic. No wonder, retail stores often complain about falling sales, low margins and poor customer loyalty.
It’s heartening to note that, in such a scenario, Mobile Ecommerce comes as a salvo, or solution.
Mobile Commerce is all about extending your Ecommerce storefront onto your mobile phone. This has several advantages in that one has a store on the go, the manufacturer can reach millions of users in a short period of time, push notification on discounts and shopping festivals easily and send out alerts on new product arrivals. Finally, with increasing adoption of mobile payment, one can even make purchases in a few clicks.
Thanks to all this, Mobile eCommerce has become increasingly popularity in the last couple of years and has helped restore falling margins in some industries.
Industries where the goods manufactured neither comes in the category of consumer goods nor consumer durables, are an ideal target segment to adopt Mobile eCommerce to boost sagging margins. Goods manufactured by these industries are driven by fashion trends, aesthetics, and a ‘desire to differentiate’, basically goods which help people stand out from others, and create an identity. Leather goods, Apparel, Furniture, Jewelry, Arts and Crafts and Cosmetics are examples of such industries.
Mobile eCommerce’s popularity lies in the fact that it can easily support the 3 Ps of buying: pre-buying, personalized buying and packaged buying. Taking an example of a men’s Apparel (shirts, T-shirts, trousers and ties) manufacturer, let us see how mobile eCommerce can support the 3 Ps.
As the first step, the company’s eStore must carry a catalogue containing photos of every single item. This helps establish the brand’s class, quality and design expertise. Next, the site can capture the customer’s preferences in terms of size, brand name, preferred material, preferred color, design, and any other minor details. This must be followed by standard eStore features like the Shopping Cart, loyalty points, and online payment. When such a website or eStore is accessible over the mobile phone, it dramatically changes the buying process.
When a new batch of shirts arrives at the store, the customer can be intimated about it on the mobile through an SMS or Voice Mail. The user can then logon to the eStore from his mobile, and check-out the visual catalogue. He can then check availability of the shirt in the desired size, and purchase it by making the payment. He can then check availability of the same in the nearest outlet, and pick it up, if he is in the vicinity. Else, he can pick it up from the outlet(s) where it’s available, at a later time. This avoids the hassle of physically shopping at the stores, not to mention – time saved.
Frequent buyers or loyal customers can be offered this service at a small, one-time cost. Instead of having the user browse through a large visual catalogue, the user can be presented a shortlisted catalogue which reflects his preferences (captured initially). Using simple tags (like numbers or letters) for each feature of a shirt, the eStore can perform a search for all shirts that match these tags, and then display the results in a new window of the browser. The customer can then repeat the earlier steps and complete the purchase.
Packaged buying is an extension of personalized buying. It’s common for retail companies to offer bundled packages, such as: 3 shirts for ‘X’ amount, or 2 shirts +1 trouser + 1 tie for ‘Y’ amount etc. Now, when the same offers are combined with personalized buying, what you have is a screen where the buyer can choose from one or more such bundled deals of various amounts, with all the items (shirts, t-shirts, trousers, etc) in every bundle personalized as per his preferences. For a busy executive who is always on the move, it’s tempting to complete purchase of 3 to 4 items, in a span of 5 minutes vis-à-vis against spending 30 to 40 minutes in a store. The store too benefits from such high-value, high margin sales.
In short, mobile eCommerce can maximize margins and ROI from existing stores and existing merchandise without having to invest in more and more Marketing initiatives.