shutterstock_160053263.pngOnly nineteen more days until Cyber Monday — the day when customers, hungover from Thanksgiving meals and recovering from Black Friday brawls, go online to finish (or for some, start) their holiday shopping. Each year the competition to offer the best prices gets tougher. Those who are able to optimize their mobile channels will be the most successful.

It's a Mobile Holiday Season

According to a recent Burst Media survey, 45.7 percent of customers use smartphones and 41.3 percent use tablets to go online and shop for holiday products and gifts — far outpacing year-over-year use compared to its previous holiday season study.

Research shows most consumers use their mobile devices as tools to research prospective products to include on their holiday gift lists. But it's not unreasonable to think many will also make purchases directly from appropriately optimized mobile apps and websites.

The question: Can your online store deliver?

Much attention has been paid to creating the perfect mobile website or mobile app. There are many issues to consider and it takes time to implement the right strategies. Yet there are basic things any online retailer can do to ensure its mobile experience doesn't leave customers frustrated, confused or unsatisfied. 

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Mobile is a Research Tool

First, it's important to understand how customers will be using their devices. SDL examined customer experiences on preferred media, shopping times and buying behavior to assist brands this upcoming holiday season and found that showrooming remains relevant. More than half of the holiday customers they surveyed are researching products they want to buy directly in the store. Regardless of how you feel about showrooming -- it's going to happen anyway, so you might as well make it easy for customers to find what they're looking for. Optimizing a user's ability to search AND find the right information -- like product descriptions, price, and shipping details -- when they want it can influence what they buy and where they buy it. 

A Mobile Device Isn't a Mini-Computer

Next, think about how a user actually uses a mobile device. Then, repeat the following mantra -- "A mobile device isn't a small computer." There is no mouse. The user is on the go and doesn't have the time to click through, scroll down or browse sub navigation. They have one finger with which to swipe and press on the screen. Some may prefer to use only their voice to navigate their way through your site. Don't make it harder than it needs to be. Consumers are in a hurry, otherwise they'd be at their desktop with a cup on coffee, leisurely browsing your site. As well, I'm sure there's a lot of great information on your website -- but is it all relevant to quickly finding the right shoe or signing up to receive emails or discount codes? Probably not. 

Mobile isn't a Silo

Your mobile site or app does not live in isolation. It is merely an extension of your brand. Just as you wouldn't abandon a customer at the checkout in an actual store, don't leave your customers hanging when they're shopping on a mobile device -- especially during the peak holiday period. Make it so you're monitoring mobile activity closely during this time to answer questions, update inventory and keep the site up and running. Should outages or inventory issues occur, the more responsive your customer service team is in answering questions and communicating with customers, the more likely they'll forgive you. If you're not prepared to handle the holiday rush, not only can you expect that customers will go elsewhere, they'll also be sure to tell everyone about it on social media. 

May Your Mobile Experience Be Merry and Bright

No one is immune from the mobile experience. Men and women alike will be using mobile to monitor prices, score deals and connect with others this holiday season. Even if customers aren't yet ready to purchase via mobile, they still expect an extraordinary mobile experience designed to assist their shopping pursuits. 

image credit: Shutterstock / Madpixblue