Consumers are shopping online at exponentially higher rates than ever before. The latest numbers tell us that retail e-commerce revenue in Canada jumped to just over CAD $44 million this year, and that number is expected to rise for the next several years. While this large number tells us that sales are booming, what it doesn’t tell us is what consumers are using to shop online.
While shopping on a desktop computer is a popular choice among consumers, shopping on a mobile device continues to gain popularity, with 56% of Canadians saying they have made a purchase using their mobile device in the past 12 months. There are currently 33.7 million mobile internet users in Canada, which compared to previous years, is a significant jump. In fact, only two years ago, there were 28.53 million mobile internet users, which helps provide a bit more insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic has led many to turn to their mobile devices as a convenient way to shop.
Similar to retail e-commerce revenue, the rate of mobile internet users in Canada is expected to grow, which means retailers may need to revaluate how mobile devices play into their business plans. As with anything in retail, trends develop based on consumer behaviour, and there are certain elements that retailers should be familiar with when it comes to mobile to meet the needs of their customers and to comfortably adapt to the changing retail landscape.
We have listed some of these trends below, but some may not work for your specific business or industry, and that’s okay! Simply finding ways to partially incorporate trends can still make a difference in the overall customer shopping experience you provide.
Voice Commerce & Search
Whether you say “hey” to Google, Alexa, or Siri, smart speakers and voice assistants have quickly gained popularity, especially in the last couple of years. Convenience is an extremely important factor for consumers when it comes to shopping, and “voice commerce” provides exactly that. As well, providing a voice command to search for a product is not only faster than typing, but it allows consumers a more accessible, hands-free way to shop as they can be anywhere, doing anything.
Of course, there are instances where a consumer cannot rely solely on their voice command to make a purchase, as they will eventually need to look at the screen of their device. However, that initial voice command can create a simplified pathway to an e-commerce website where they can make a purchase.
According to recent reports, around 40% of consumers buy or order something every month using their voice, while 57% search for something they would normally type into a search bar on a monthly basis. These stats help illustrate that consumers are relying on this voice search method to find products, but how are retailers adapting to that?
In order for a website to appear on a search engine results page via voice command, certain elements need to be added for it to be optimized. For example, a large component of voice search, and voice commerce as a whole, is the “conversational language” that consumers use when searching. Rather than saying specific keywords when searching, one is more likely to say a sentence, just as they would normally speak. This means your website should have actionable keywords in its schema markup, and it’s important to use long-tail keywords in the website copy to help it appear in the results.
Over half of consumers have found local businesses using a voice search. With this in mind, some of the best ways to ensure your business appears in search results is to update your Google Business Profile, ensure there is region-specific content that appears on the website and in the metadata, and that your website is extremely mobile-friendly. Since “near me” searches have increased in the last few years, and many consumers will use those keywords in their voice search, preparing your mobile content to reflect this trend is key for the years to come.
Many retailers turn to chatbots to provide customers support on their websites. But how does that translate over to a mobile website? It often doesn’t. Since mobile devices have a smaller screen, adding an additional element of a chatbot may not be a priority. However, the need for support does not vanish just because someone uses their mobile device to shop.
Whether it is a live chat with an agent or an automated chatbot, customers want support and they expect a quick response. Chatbots offer this fast support, and it can help in the customer buying process, as it can act as a source of information about a product, shipping questions, etc. Additionally, automated chatbots offer 24/7 support, which helps feed into the accessibility factor of a mobile device; customers can get their questions answered at any time wherever they are (which could be anywhere thanks to the convenience of a mobile device).
Although chatbots are not new to the scene, mobile chatbots relatively are. This makes it an appealing trend to incorporate into your e-commerce mobile website in the new year, especially since consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices. When your customers know that they have your support, no matter what device they are on, it maintains an omnichannel experience, which is key in maintaining a loyal customer relationship.
Preparing for Social Commerce
Retail shopping and social media are becoming extremely close-knit, thanks to the ease that social commerce provides consumers. To put it simply, social commerce is a form of e-commerce where brands sell products on social media platforms. Let’s take, for example, a user who is scrolling through their Instagram when they come across a post for a pair of running shoes posted by a popular athletic brand. With the “Shops on Instagram” feature, the user can simply click on the running shoes and be taken to a page where they can purchase them.
Speaking of Instagram, their “Your Shop” homepage is a stopping ground for all things products. This is where consumers can browse through various purchasable items that brands make available, and it can be an extremely attractive option to reach new customers, especially since 81% of Instagram users use the platform to research products and services. Additionally, 130 million users tap on shopping posts every month, making social commerce an extremely popular trend in the retail space.
Social commerce provides customers with a more direct and convenient way to purchase items that they see as they scroll on social media platforms, but for it to work, brands have to provide their customers with the chance to do so. In 2022, you will begin to see more retailers getting in on this form of e-commerce, especially as a way to meet their customers where they are.
Currently, there is 53.98% of traffic that comes from a mobile device globally, compared to a desktop (43.55%), which provides some insight into how much time people are actually spending on their mobile devices. As well, nearly eight out of ten businesses in America anticipate selling their products on social media platforms within the next three years, while already 30% of e-commerce companies in North America already do so.
Mobile Checkout & Payments
When shopping online or on a mobile shopping app, the checkout process needs to be optimized, especially since there is not a lot of room for added elements that a desktop screen may be able to display. It is important to remember that while brand consistency is key, your mobile website should not directly reflect that of your website on a desktop. In other words, customers may need a smaller menu area and larger buttons, for example, which may not be the case for a typical website that is accessed on a desktop computer.
Usability issues, account registration requirements, slow loading times, and a complex checkout process are some of the top concerns that lead to mobile transaction abandonment. To create a positive cart UI, it is important to eliminate any distractions or pop-ups during payment time, and display the most important product information that a customer needs to know to make an informed and confident purchase.
As well, offering more mobile payment options, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay can provide customers with a quick and secure way to shop, which helps keep the shopping experience entirely on the mobile device. The use of mobile wallets is increasing, and retailers that adapt to that allow for a better checkout experience.
2022 brings many changes – consumer behaviour included. This is why retailers need to stay informed on the trends that customers are coming to expect when shopping and ensure that no matter how a customer engages with a retailer, whether it be in-store, online, or on a mobile device, that their experience is consistent in order to build brand awareness, loyalty, and success.
About Reshift Media
Reshift Media is a long-time partner of the Retail Council of Canada. The company is a Toronto-based digital marketing and development organization that provides leading-edge social media, search and website/mobile development services to retailers aroundthe world. Please visit www.reshiftmedia.com to learn more.