, , ,

Articel 6Last year, visits to e-commerce sites and mobile apps on tablets and smartphones doubled.  In addition, the size of the average order was higher on tablets versus PC’s.  However, retailers are finding that while customers like to use mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) for browsing and shopping, many customers prefer to use their PC’s or laptops to make the final purchase transaction.  Retailers are noticing that consumers use a smartphones to research products, tablets to browse options, and computers to buy.  According to research done by Google, 85% of online shoppers start searching on one device (often a smartphone) and make a purchase on another device.

A challenge of this multi-device trend is that retailers can’t track customers as they hop from device to device, as information from cookies does not transfer across devices.  For example, if customers put an item in their shopping cart on one device, it will not sync up on their other devices (PC or mobile).  Retailers are scrambling to figure out how to sync the shopping experience in other ways, like prompting shoppers to log on.  eBay, however, has found a way to sync customers devices so that their information like shipping and credit card details transfers across devices.

At ModCloth, an online women’s retailer, most customers browse merchandise on the phone and add items to their wish list and then purchase the items elsewhere.  To capitalize on this behavior, ModCloth asks shoppers to log in to the website via phone or PC in order to store information like credit card numbers and shopping carts. If a ModCloth customer adds an item to her list on a laptop, and the item is about to sell out, ModCloth can send the customer an email.  The customer then accesses the email via a phone or other device to buy the item.  ModCloth has found that customers using multiple devices and are logged in are 2.5 times more likely to place an order than customers on a single device.

Other retailers that can sync information across multiple devices include Amazon.com,  Nordstrom, Target, Macy’s, and Gap.  Retailers whose e-commerce systems cannot accommodate multiple devices include Newegg, Kohl’s, RadioShack, and J.Crew.

Discussion Questions:

1. How and why do people use multiple devices to research, browse, and buy?

2. Why is this a problem for some retailers?

3. How can retailers overcome this problem?

4. Do you shop using multiple devices?


SOURCE: Claire Cain Miller and Stephanie Clifford, New York Times, December 21, 2012