Strategies Driving Mobile Commerce Growth in Manufacturing

October 13, 2022
Strategies Driving Mobile Commerce Growth in Manufacturing

Commerce strategy continues to rapidly evolve in B2B. Despite the complexities of purchasing in this market, buyers increasingly prefer to use their smartphones to finalize orders. This shift makes a strong mobile commerce strategy that can quickly adapt to changing behaviors key to keeping current customers and reaching new buyers.

With the nature of B2B sales changing as more millennials enter roles of purchasing paired with the improvements and adoption of smartphones through the years, this was a natural shift but propelled forward by the COVID-19 pandemic. The time is now to set the stage for a strong mobile commerce strategy for manufacturers.

Driving growth in mobile commerce for manufacturing will come easily if the right strategy is put into place. The B2B buyer persona is perfectly positioned to utilize mobile commerce as the majority of them are:

  • Highly engaged with your company
  • Spending high dollar amounts
  • Repeat purchasers on a regular basis

Buyers of today don’t want to have to visit or pick up the phone to purchase or obtain a quote. They are also not always at their desktop, so having access at their fingertips to do this part of the job just makes sense. 

Buyers expect to be able to pull up your company website or mobile app from their smart device and have an Amazon-like experience, but buyers often report anything but that on B2B sites. Where the online purchase experience is often an afterthought, we find room for improvement and innovation, and those manufacturers that have a sound mobile commerce strategy are positioned perfectly to gain a competitive edge in today’s mobile-first market. 

Focus on Optimization

53% of visitors will leave mobile sites if they take over 3 seconds to load. 

Your company's ability to grow its mobile commerce channel largely depends on how fast the site or app runs. This task is not a singular project, but continual. Every second, even millisecond, shaved off can benefit your mobile growth. Google says this is so critical that you should allocate a ‘speed budget’ and have an entire strategy dedicated around how to always be improving your mobile site or app speed.

What Mobile Technology Should We Use?

Responsive website, progressive web app (PWA), or native app- there is no right or wrong answer to what platform is best for a mobile commerce strategy. Depending on where you are at in your digital maturity and mobile presence will help answer this question for your company. It is important to understand all the options as you look to the future with your mobile commerce strategy. Below are key insights around PWA and native app technologies.

Progressive Web Apps 

If your company is ready to expand beyond a responsive site but isn’t ready to commit to building a mobile app, it could make sense to consider a PWA as part of your mobile commerce strategy. Growing in popularity, PWAs provide an app-like user experience, but through the web. 

The main benefits PWAs have brought businesses are:

  • Increased site speed
  • Improvements in re-engagement with buyers
  • Higher conversions (first-time visitors, return visitors, and check-out)

PWAs deliver a rich experience utilizing modern commerce technology standards. Based on permissions set within the PWA, this technology can also leverage push notifications and work well offline and in low-quality networks in most cases. Since a PWA does not require a separate installation, it can often be a more cost-effective option than a native app. 

Native Apps

When it comes to driving mobile commerce in manufacturing, a native app often makes the most sense. However, native apps need to be tailored to mobile use cases and leverage the native properties found on smart devices. In many cases, serving all users involved in sales, support, and channel partners require more than one app and the associated development and maintenance costs.

Oftentimes, headless commerce and API-driven architecture can satisfy numerous use cases and users. Developers can then work collaboratively rather than build apps in siloed point solutions. Thus, reuse existing back-end services and tailor data to each “head” through APIs. Headless commerce generally allows serving both practical and transactional use cases in a single app. 

Supporting native app user adoption is imperative to success.

Apps generally run faster than mobile websites because they store data locally on the smart device, but that doesn’t come without concerns. If you choose to build a mobile app as part of your mobile commerce strategy, know that getting customers, sales reps, and channel partners to download and use the app poses challenges.

Make sure app adoption is a KPI across your entire enterprise. This involves educating prospective users on why the app makes their job easier, simpler, or even more fun. In order to quickly increase adoption efforts add QR codes to emails, print materials, packing slips, and display ads. You will also need to train sales and support to onboard customers to the app, and build tutorials to share with them.

Focus on User Experience

No matter if you choose to offer a responsive website, PWA, or native app it is important to deliver a fast and frictionless user experience. 

Start by thinking mobile-first when it comes to digital commerce, putting it before desktop experience because the majority of your customers are pulling up your site this way. With that in mind, your site should leverage responsive design in order to minimize the number of clicks on any given customer journey path. This allows users, no matter where they are or what device they are on, to quickly perform interactions with your company like checking order status, re-ordering, or for your field sales reps to quickly put in new accounts, get credit approval, or upsell products. 

Include Mobile-Specific Features

Mobile-first features optimize the digital experience, drive revenue, and build loyalty. These types of features will help with not only user adoption, but other KPIs around revenue, growth, and loyalty when done properly.

Geographic identifier: Enabling your site or mobile app to understand a user's location can help further personalize and improve the experience. This feature can allow for personalized products, up-to-date shipping information, and location-specific promotions. Additionally, with B2B buyers often purchasing in large quantities or requiring same or next-day deliveries, access to accurate location-based inventory is key.

Personalization: Data on mobile devices offer more insight that certain desktop browsers just don’t. Additionally, if integrated with CRM, personalization, and/or predictive analytics a B2B app can push 1:1 personalized targeting based on the buyer's role within the company, past engagement, and purchasing history. 

Push notifications: While this can be used in a similar fashion as B2C, B2B push notifications can also be leveraged beyond promotional offers and shipping updates. Push notifications can support and accelerate workflows by alerting users when it’s “their turn” to take an action within an approval chain, something many companies require in purchasing decisions. This can also remind customers when credit windows are closing, if order payment is overdue, or if they are eligible for special offers. Notifications can also be used on wearables and IoT devices.

Also consider these mobile-first features in your strategy: barcode scanning, image search, speech-to-text, gestures, offline access, messenger integration, touch login, and integration with mobile wallets. 

With B2B buying cycles often being more complex than B2C, mobile provides benefits you won’t find in a B2C experience. With multiple account reps and event-based triggers, such as a proactive chat invitation, the click-to-call prompt or special offer can enhance the experience, increase the likelihood to buy, and even increase order value. Or, certain user actions within the app may trigger a text or phone call from a human, or a proactive perk such as free samples or promotional offers.

Focus on Simplifying

A big reason for the rise in mobile commerce in B2B is that buyers can save time. 

That tells us that anything unnecessary should be removed from the mobile commerce experience going forward. The fewer steps needed for the final purchase, the higher the likelihood they will convert.

Here are several successful ways to create a simplified mobile commerce experience in B2B:

  1. Search: In B2B commerce, the search box is a top-used feature so make sure it is prominently displayed. Having the ability for buyers to easily find and buy the product they need requires a smart and visual search. Paired with small mobile screens, this can prove challenging. The less text and more visual you can be in the search experience, the better.
  2. Gestures: Smart devices use gestures that typical desktops don’t, but use that to your advantage. From swiping to tapping to using thumbs, all of these can increase the user-friendliness of your site or app. Button sizing and location are also crucial to the buyer journey- make sure they are not too close together or located all at the top.
  3. Navigation: Setting up your information architecture is one of the most important tasks to a successful mobile commerce site. Make sure your menus are simple, easy, and accessible. Carts with the number of products should be always visible and pop-ups need to be removed or heavily minimized. 
  4. Simplify checkout: The single-click checkout was popularized by Amazon but can be difficult for some manufacturing companies to accommodate. Instead of focusing on a single-click checkout, start by focusing on how you can simplify the experience. Perhaps make it so they only need to enter information once or include multiple steps on one page. 

Is your company well positioned to grow its mobile commerce channel?

Deciding where to start and continue with your mobile commerce strategy depends on the evaluation of the business structure, strategy, and digital maturity, as well as the current skill set, resources, capabilities, and functionalities. It can challenge manufacturers on both the business and technology side as there are a multitude of approaches and options. While this is true, understanding key strategies and working openly amongst your organization can be a smooth journey and drive growth. 

By maintaining your B2B heritage while coupling it with B2C-honed best practices and solutions you will add multiple points of value to all constituents. Mobile commerce isn’t a single event, but about continual growth and maturity to create innovative new solutions for internal teams, channel partners, and buyers. 

If you’re unsure of the next step to take with your mobile commerce strategy, contact the experts at Van Allen Strategy. As a B2B technology and strategy firm, our team specializes in helping companies identify a strategy that best fits their business and positions them to scale

Contact us to talk about it.

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Van Allen Strategies

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