How many of us wake up in the morning to alarms we set on our mobile phones, rather than an alarm clock? For that matter, how many dedicated gadgets (cameras, music players, organizers, etc.) have been rendered superfluous by the phone? The point, evident for some time now, is that phones dominate our lives in more ways that we perhaps realize.

Shopping habits are no different.

The latest Salesforce Shopping Index shows that mobile accounts for the majority traffic and orders to retail sites. As brands have taken notice, the phrase “mobile-first” has entered the lexicon of merchants looking to capitalize on this trend and build their digital commerce journey. But what does mobile-first mean, and how does a brand truly become mobile-first?

Mobile commerce today is marked by micro-moments, when people kill time on their phones while waiting for a train, standing in line at the bank, etc., and are most likely to interact with a brand for the first time. These micro-moments present a challenge for brands in delivering an engaging, personalized brand experience, and (hopefully) moving the shopper through to checkout – all before the shopper is onto something else and the micro moment is gone.

Adopting a mobile-first philosophy isn’t as simple as implementing responsive design, or working within the constraints of a small screen size, or even A/B testing, although all those are important. Being mobile-first requires merchants to make a full shift and set their mobile strategy by answering three questions:

  • Who are your mobile shoppers?
  • How can mobile unify and personalize the shopping journey?
  • Is your site design roadmap “all in” on mobile?

Let’s explore each of these questions:


Who are your mobile shoppers?

In order to establish a mobile-first philosophy, merchants should start by considering who their mobile shopper is. Wolverine Worldwide, a multi-brand company, recently analyzed mobile traffic across their 12 diverse brands, including Stride Rite, Sperry, Merrell and Saucony, and found that mobile drives more than 60% of traffic to Stride Rite, but far less traffic to some of its other brands – reflective of each brand’s distinct audiences and shopping habits.

Brands might have a figurehead in mind of who they think their consumer is, but that might not reflect the reality. Mobile provides the opportunity for brands to collect a goldmine of data. Social media is a great example. A recent global survey showed that for 49% of shoppers, Facebook is influential in their holiday shopping behavior, and for 28% of shoppers, Instagram is influential. The rise of new consumer platforms and social media underscores the importance of understanding who is on the other end of the device.


How can mobile unify and personalize the shopping journey?

Of course, mobile is impacting more than online shopping; 59% of shoppers  say they use their phone while in a store to compare prices, compare products, take photos, read product reviews and more. Merchants should consider this an opportunity rather than a threat to in-store shopping, a chance to unify their commerce experiences, connecting the online and in-store shopping journey. Geolocation, click-and-collect, loyalty programs, persistent cart, and in-store navigation are just some ways brands are bringing the online and instore experience together.

Personalization, or at least relevance, is critical to building any effective shopping journey, but it’s especially important on mobile, where attention spans tend to be shorter. Enabling AI powered commerce drives the best site experiences by automatically personalizing the shopping journey. This is important especially in micro-moments and on small screen. Just look at the success merchants are seeing with Einstein Predictive Sort, which personalizes search and product category pages to show shoppers exactly what they want, and Einstein Product recommendations which provides relevant, data-driven product recommendations. Companies like Black Diamond have seen significant revenue increases thanks to personalization strategies driven by AI.


Is your site-design roadmap “all in” on mobile?

From a design and user experience (UX) perspective, building for mobile isn’t something to evolve into. You can’t simply shrink down a desktop site to mobile yet amazingly, that’s precisely what some brands are doing. Being all in on mobile requires a full shift, designing (and testing) from the ground up for mobile. The first step is to optimize the site you have today, which starts by making sure you have the fundamentals down like search, accessible navigation, an optimized product detail page (PDP), and a simplified checkout. The next step is to ensure your organization has a mobile-first mindset, starting with your marketing, merchandising, and brand teams. Complete organizational alignment ensures mobile continuity across everything from coupons and promotions, to UX and in-store digital displays. Also, don’t forget to about content. In the mobile world, brands need mobile-optimized content of all types and formats – everything from snackable social media videos, blogs, banners, and more.

Most importantly, every brand should have complete organizational buy-in on their mobile goals, from the C-suite on down. This ensures support for investments that need to be made to be mobile-first, and demonstrates priorities for the rest of the organization.

Of course, a huge component of being mobile-first is having a site designed and built exclusively for mobile. Check out this mobile best practice guide for the latest design tips from our subject matter experts.