The mobile customer experience has become so prominent among loyalty marketers today because of its vast potential for significant impact on customer engagement, and customer loyalty.

According to Forrester’s comprehensive new report, “The Biggest Prize In Mobile Commerce Is Influencing Offline Sales,” mobile phone sales crested at $60 billion in 2016, but that figure pales in comparison to the $1.05 trillion in offline sales that mobile phones impacted.

By 2021, the report says, consumers will spend $152 billion directly on mobile phones, or almost 24 percent of total online sales. What’s more, mobile phones will influence $1.4 trillion in offline sales within the next five years. Forrester projects that smartphone retail sales will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 20.4 percent over the next five years.

To capture and grow their share of mobile and mobile-influenced commerce, the report outlines, digital business professionals should follow these recommendations:

Use conversational interfaces to up the ante on convenience. Mobile commerce is nascent today in third-party apps in the U.S., but will grow substantially in the next five years, especially for replenishment purchases. Consumers primarily download apps from brands with which they engage frequently, yet they think app experiences are better than mobile web ones. Conversational interfaces that live within third-party apps such as Facebook Messenger or Kik, or virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s home, bring commerce to where consumers already are.

Plan to build a mobile app — even if you don’t think you need one. Deciding to build a mobile app will force a very important conversation between your business and technology teams about how to build a flexible architecture to support this next generation of so-called mobile experiences and drive sales.

Mobile today tends to mean smartphones, but digital is essentially mobile, whereas future services (e.g., Alexa, google, Siri) will be a derivative of mobile. The customer touch points you need to support will continue to fragment but will be digital, increasingly ephemeral, and rely heavily on context to engage consumers as individuals — not as marketing segments.

Reconsider your decision to use rWD. Like most digital business professionals, retailers lean heavily on rWD to create mobile-optimized websites. rWD leans toward providing customers a consistent experience across devices, but (fatally!) omits a consumer’s context. to be fair, this approach is pragmatic, given the proliferation of devices and screen sizes. however, consumers have different needs on the go (i.e., context) than they do when sitting at home with a laptop. A consumer who is shopping at a brick-and-mortar retailer online is likely browsing a broad set of goods that are sitting in a warehouse so that consumer likely expects two-day delivery. if that same consumer uses a smartphone, she is more inclined to find nearby stores, opening hours, and local inventory because she wants to buy something now.

Adopt an app+ approach to mobile. Own as many mobile moments as you can. Mobile moments are your moments of truth: i.e., when a customer opens your app; visits your website, store, or branch; or calls you. these are your best opportunities to serve customers, but they are not your only ones in mobile or digital more broadly. Start to think more widely about a portfolio of experiences that includes messages (e.g., push notifications and in-app messages), experience components on third-party platforms (e.g., ordering a Domino’s pizza on Facebook Messenger), and virtual assistants (e.g., Amazon’s Alexa, google, or Siri).

Add value — not gimmicks — to consumers with digital in-store experiences. Know what you want to do and whom you want to target before you start conversations about technology. Each year brings a new, overhyped fad into retail. in 2016, virtual reality, augmented reality, and chatbots topped the list. Widely hailed in 2013 and 2014, in-store beacons have failed to offer value to both consumers and the business at scale. Don’t fall for the fads without thinking it through. use Forrester’s mobile POST (people, objectives, strategy, technology) methodology to ensure you are creating this value before going down the road of committing to new technologies.

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