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Why mobile first is just a small part of the customer journey

By Marcus Lambert

As consumers, our expectations have changed dramatically in a very short space of time. We can now watch a TV show or movie regardless of our location by seamlessly drifting from our smartphone, tablet, laptop or even the humble television set. Ultimately we all use different devices. But, we also expect the same experience both online and offline.

Even this article could have been drafted on a laptop, tweaked on a tablet in bed and published from a smartphone on the train journey to the office. The ability to pick up where we left off has a definite appeal to users. But it’s equally creating a few problems for businesses weighed down by both legacy thinking and software.

It should be no surprise that companies attempting to track the customer journey using outdated methods are already getting left behind. The challenges many businesses are facing is understanding how they can achieve a single view of their customers across multiple channels and touch points.

Questions around how to build relationships with clients, orchestrate customer journeys and target users in real-time are also rising to the top of meeting agendas across the globe. Many still fail to understand the importance of adopting a customer-centric approach that will enable them to operate cross-functionally across an entire business.

Outdated business models, team structures and lack of meaningful metrics are ultimately preventing progress required to achieve the elusive single customer view. To have any chance of offering a truly seamless experience, retailers, in particular, need to capture and track insights from every channel.

The time has come for brands to bridge the gap between physical and digital touchpoints. I recently found myself in an Adidas store on the high street to find that a pair of running shoes were £20 more expensive in store than their own website. When I showed the sales assistant my phone and asked if they could match it, they advised I would have to purchase online to receive the lower price.

There is an apparent disconnect between this brands online and offline presence. In the consumer’s eyes, they should be the same. Understanding the consumption and preferences of tech-savvy shoppers across disparate channels is also essential to securing loyalty.

Another reason that a holistic understanding of customers and their behaviour has reached mission critical status is to use the data to unlock predictive capabilities. It shouldn’t matter whether shoppers purchase items online or offline in a physical store. Our smartphones have become the front door to retail and in most cases represent the beginning of the customer journey. So, why are many businesses still not capturing and analysing this data?

However, the terms ‘mobile first’ and ‘mobile only’ are already outdated. Paul Adams illustrated this point perfectly when he wrote a convincing argument about the need to concentrate on screens rather than devices.

Sure, if you take a look around in any public space there will be crowds looking down at their smartphone screens. But, these same people will spend 8 hours a day looking at a much bigger screen in the office and an even larger TV when they get home.

The notion of mobile first implies that every business should prioritise their mobile experience over all other channels. But, the reality is that app fatigue means that we will probably regularly access only five of the fifty apps on our phones.

For customers and employees to seamlessly interact with each other, it’s all screens that we access rather than the device that requires the greater investment. The days of simply throwing money at creating mobile applications and mobile services have long gone.

We are now entering a new era of interaction. The relationship between customer and brand needs to be live and in real-time. MasterCard proved that consumers who shop both online and offline with a retailer would typically spend 250% more. Meanwhile, Macy’s revealed that its omnichannel shoppers are eight times more valuable to them than those who shop in a single channel.

This evidence suggests that our mobile world is much more complex than originally thought. Businesses also need to focus on the creation of relevant experiences across multiple channels and touch points. Capturing micro-moments and anticipating needs in real-time that will keep people coming back for more.

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