When the Shopping Stars Align – Mobile Shopping and the Perfect Cashmere Sweater

My flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was boarding. The line was slow and steady and I was scrolling through the Instagram app on my phone. Instagram is one of the few social apps I use these days, and I have a small group of friends as well as a couple of brands that I follow. One of these brands is a women’s athletic apparel brand. I follow them for three reasons. First, because I’m a huge fan. Second, because I want to be the first to know when they have a sale, a promotion, or a new product. Third and finally, they post beautiful and inspiring pictures of people in nature.. the skier on dawn patrol making first tracks, the yogi in a headstand, in a sunlit forest.. the runner in rugged terrain. They are always having an awesome time and the picture says it all. On this particular day I happened to notice a post from this retailer with a 20% off message. “Finally!” I thought. “Their stuff never goes on sale!”

I went to their website hoping I’d have time to shop before the mandatory phone shut off announcement. Yes! A featherweight cashmere sweater I had been watching for months was indeed on sale! I noticed reviews from other shoppers. The scores were high, the comments positive. “Please still have my size and color available!” I thought, selecting my color and size choice and adding the sweater to my basket. At that point I was prompted to log-in and though I had not logged in to the mobile site before, it worked just like the website you access through your computer. I found that my information was pre-populated, even my payment information was stored. The only thing between me and that sweater was the “Buy Now” button.

By the time I reached my seat, the purchase was made and the receipt was in my inbox. The sweater would be waiting for me when I got home. I realized something as I sat down and got buckled in. I had been alerted to a product, been able to make a decision, and had successfully made a purchase all in about 15 minutes while boarding this plane. The shopping experience had been seamless. Connected. Rich. Easy! But I realized something else. I expected this! I expected to not encounter any wrinkles, not face hiccups with the site loading, nor issues with my information being stored. It was all incredibly easy, and the minimum bar for digital commerce had been set.

I remembered just a few years ago when I was not actually comfortable shopping through my phone and it was often a painful experience. When a website takes too long to load, it’s too easy to simply leave the site. Research says that 57% of customers will wait 3 seconds or less for a website to load before abandoning it. "Consumer Response to Travel Site Performance" study conducted by PhoCusWright and Akamai

As a shopper I don’t care about how retailers set-up all of their channels. I just want a consistent experience. I want it to be seamless. Quick. Easy. For the retailer, this is the challenge – and opportunity – and by using personalization, effective prediction on sales, and about differentiating the shopping experience, they can exceed if not just meet customer expectations. Read more about Harnessing the Power Of Data in the Retail Industry, by my co-worker and retail business insights guru, Shish Shridhar!

As I powered off my phone and heard the engines start to hum, I thought about the convergence of our physical and digital worlds, of the bridge that connects these two worlds.. of this new retail reality.

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