We all know that smartphones and tablets are changing the way we behave online. Just have a look at any group of commuting people, which window are they looking at? The one they hold in their hand.
If nothing else, consider the fact that even that most sacred bastion of offline that is the London tube system now is rolling out WiFi across the network. Our world is changing indeed!
While the change is obvious to see, it may not be immediately clear how this impacts business. That’s why looking at the numbers that Google regularly publishes on desktop versus mobile searches is so important, they are very likely to map to a shift in behaviour from desk bound people sitting down to do “proper” work to people getting away from their desks, using their spare time to dream themselves away.
Do your shopping while sitting back
The world of online product sales have coined a term for this shift: “lean back” shopping. This is in stark contrast to the world of “lean forward”, which is what you do in front of a desktop computer.
Think about it. When you use your desktop computer to research things, or buy or book things, you go to your desk and sit down to do nothing but that. You need to use a keyboard and mouse to get the job done. Lean forward to focus on the task at hand.
Sitting down with your iPad or smartphone is an entirely different experience. It’s something you can relax while doing. Sitting in your sofa with a glass of wine in one hand and your phone in the other. You are looking for entertainment, and new experiences. Lean back and enjoy.
Which mode do you think makes people most receptive to a sales message, a spur of the moment purchase decision?
Look at the numbers (they are HUGE!)
Google recently released new numbers hammering the speed with which this shift is happening home. While the numbers are for the travel industry, I am confident the same shift is happening all over.
According to the presentation, of all searches made on desktop and mobile:
- 41% of all last-minute air fare searches,
- 33% of hotels & accommodation,
- 26% of holiday package queries
came via a mobile device. For the hotels & accommodation segment, that represents a whopping 411% up YoY!
I think it’s fair to say that hotels and restaurants that don’t react to this shift are missing out on revenue. Making your website and booking experience optimised for mobile is not a “nice to have”, it’s a majorly important customer satisfaction tool.
Livebookings recently published the latest version of their European Dining Index where they estimate that a third of restaurants don’t even have a basic website. With their estimates of 14% of reservations happening outside of opening hours, and 44% made during busy peak times, the need for a website with a decent booking experience is obvious.
Those numbers don’t even take into account bookings made (or lost, due to a poor mobile user experience…) by people arriving to a website from social network updates (content often consumed on mobile devices), or from their phone trying to get a last minute reservation while travelling.
Wake up and smell the (take-away) coffee
Numbers speak for themselves sometimes, but in this case I think they shout. The consumers are making it very loud and clear that they prefer using their smartphones and tablets over their laptops and desktops.
Not realising this as a business, and working to use this as an advantage, will mean unsatisfied customers, failure to compete, and ultimately lost sales.
So what should you do to address these shifting consumption habits? Try to understand how these mobile consumers think. What works for them? The best way to do that, is going mobile yourself. If you don’t already have a smartphone and a tablet, get them. Use them.
Try out different types of booking and shopping experiences. Work with your agency and web developer to make your website work. While you are at it, follow your own social profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest or wherever you are active and keep asking yourself the question if what you find there is interesting and relevant to the type of people that you are trying to attract.
Because if it isn’t, why should anyone care?
Recommendations for taking advantage of the mobile trend:
- Tap into the “lean back” mindset and make your content exciting and enjoyable.
- Make your website and booking experience optimised for mobile.
- Think touch. In the mobile world we interact using our fingers: inexact but very organic and comfortable if the website is built with this in mind.
- Use Google Analytics to see if you are satisfying mobile users. Look at the “bounce rate”, if it is much higher for people using mobile devices, you know something is wrong with your mobile experience.
- And last, use your own website! Have you tried looking something up or making a reservation on your own website? No? Shame on you. Regularly try using your own website with a laptop, an iPad, an iPhone and an Android phone. Expose yourself to what your customers have to use every time they want to buy something from you, and improve what you don’t like!