One in 10 people actually spend more than $1000 a month using their mobile phone."

We might all think we’re smart and savvy shoppers but retailers have always known exactly how to push our buttons to lure us into buying something.

We’re aware the dark arts of retailing are at work when we see sugary snacks skilfully stacked right next to us at the checkout but we’re powerless to resist the combination of bright colours, bargain prices and lazy proximity. Every day, we’re exposed to dozens of these tactics as businesses of every kind bombard us with special offers for products we didn’t know we needed.

As the battleground for buyers has shifted online, retailers have felt the effects in their physical stores but they’ve still managed to use their cunning to employ old selling manoeuvres in a new digital medium. The latest weapons in the war for your wallet are mobile apps which retailers are constructing like palm-sized storefronts and impulse aisles.

Combining our addiction to smartphones with our insatiable appetite for a deal provides a mouth-watering opportunity for retailers. Braintree, a PayPal service that specialises in providing merchants with the latest technology for seamlessly accepting online payments, were able to shine some light on the shopping malls we all carry around in our pocket.

There’s an app for that

Braintree

With nearly half a billion webpages on the internet, nearly every business has some form of online presence which normally consists of just a dozen or so static pages of content. The challenge lies in taking these old forms of content and making them accessible and, more importantly, enticing people to purchase through them on their mobile device.

The so called “appification” of the internet is a theory among those within the tech sector who believe apps will completely replace traditional websites within the next 10 years, rendering them as obsolete as dial-up internet. That’s not to say these apps will all take the form you’re used to downloading on your smartphone, as the definition of app is much broader here. Even websites accessed through a browser have become “app-like” as they offer a streamlined approach to browsing a company’s products, while delivering a personalised experience that can seamlessly transition to mobile.

Mobile is the key word here as it’s the fastest growing channel in consumer commerce. Research recently conducted by PayPal estimates in Australia, each of us buys about $330 of products and services using our mobile phone each month. One in 10 people actually spend more than $1000 a month using their mobile phone and there’s evidence to suggest that will become the new norm in the not-too-distant future.

So how do retailers capitalise on our newfound penchant for perusing and purchasing via our phones? One company that knows all about mobile buying power is Braintree, the next-generation payment system provider behind some of the biggest and most disruptive apps in the game – think Uber and Airbnb as just two of their many next-generation commerce clients.

Retailers currently receive about 60 per cent of their online traffic from mobile, accounting for about 15 per cent of their total sales."
Carolyn Breeze, Head of Sales and Market Development at Braintree

Carolyn Breeze, Braintree’s head of sales and market development, says the growth in retail apps is part of the trend towards designing mobile-first experiences for consumers.

“Where businesses used to talk about mobile optimisation as a way of making their desktop website and online presence more accessible on a mobile device, what we’re seeing now is they’re actually approaching it from the other direction. Mobile-first is about designing and building your online experiences and apps for mobile first, with your desktop experience becoming a product of that, not the other way around as it has been traditionally.”

To illustrate why this approach is so vital, Carolyn says retailers currently receive up to 60 per cent of their online traffic from mobile, accounting for up to 50 per cent of their total sales. While that’s an impressive proportion from a channel which didn’t exist a decade ago, there’s still plenty of scope for improvement. As traditional retailers continue to tweak and test their mobile apps, specialty players are now leading the way when it comes to providing a seamless and swipeable shopping experience.

Your daily fashion feed

Braintree

Living up to their name, The Iconic has become synonymous with mobile retailing in Australia, especially if you’re a part of their target market of tech-savvy Gen Y shoppers. With a product offering that’s designed to pique the interests of the cool crowd, The Iconic does more than just offer up daily deals on the latest threads.

Combining the ability to seamlessly swipe left to right between categories and products, the app allows you to save items to your cart and instantly check out later, either from the app or by visiting their site on desktop. Carolyn Breeze says The Iconic’s ability to tailor offerings and send notifications directly to your phone really showcases the potential power of a retailing app.

Each of us buys about $330 of products and services using our mobile phone each month."

“I’m an Iconic shopper, as I probably use their app twice a day and buy something a couple of times a week, so they know who I am and they’ve built a profile around my shopping behaviour. Savvy retailers who use the big data provided by their customer’s mobile browsing experiences have the ability to build really bespoke experiences from their sales conversions,” says Breeze.

It’s clearly an approach that works as The Iconic has managed to carve out a 10 per cent share of the online fashion market in Australia. While many businesses can offer their customers an online shopping experience of some sort, it’s the ability to capture rich data about their customers that retailers miss out on by not having their own retail app, says Breeze.

“On a desktop, if I’m not logged in, I could be looking around your website for 15 minutes and you wouldn’t know anything about me. With an app, you’re automatically logged in every time you use it so a retailer can track your visits to identify when you shop and what you buy in order to provide you with offers and experiences that will stimulate your individual buying behaviour.”

Another key function of any retail app worth downloading is the ease with which those all-important payments are made during a purchase. This is an area that, true to form, The Iconic has opted for the market-leading payment experience offered by Braintree. Speaking at a panel discussion on disruptive commerce hosted by Braintree, The Iconic’s co-founder Adam Jacobs explained that decision to the audience by saying, “We see payments as friction, and we want to remove friction as quickly as possible”.

Setting up shop

Braintree

While the cost, time and effort associated with developing an app is a significant deterrent for many retailers, the time to hesitate may have passed as the buying behaviour of consumers continues to morph in new and unforeseen ways. Facebook Connect now allows consumers to instantly share their Facebook details with businesses to create a customer profile at the simple click of a button. Contextual commerce takes this principle to its next logical step where consumers can now buy products directly from their Facebook or Instagram feeds.

A cat among the retail pigeons will soon be Amazon, as The Australian Financial Review recently revealed the online shopping behemoth is reportedly set to officially launch its online store in Australia later in 2017. Famous for offering nearly any product in existence, Amazon’s mobile app is the most popular shopping app in the US. It offers an instant window to an infinite range of products as well as some nifty tricks such as the ability to take a photo of a product on your phone and have Amazon tell you exactly what it is, while offering you a cheaper price than the store in which you took the photo.

In this brave new world of boundless buying opportunities, businesses need to start taking the vital first steps towards building mobile-first shopping experiences for their customers if they have any hope of staying marginally competitive in the future. As the retail industry continues to count the costs of this seismic online shift in sales, failure to keep pace with the growth of mobile commerce seems a sure-fire way to be left behind.

Braintree

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A catalyst for next generation commerce, Braintree’s global platform powers payments for thousands of e-commerce innovators like Airbnb, Uber, Eventbrite and Pinterest. Merchants in more than 45 countries across the world accept payments via their app or website, in more than 130 currencies, reaching more than 200 million PayPal users, with a single integration.

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