Learning from China's approach to mobile shopping

London - Most Westerners may prefer the comfort of their laptops and computers when it comes to online shopping, but in China, e-commerce via mobile devices has far surpassed the possibilities in Europe and North America.

Consider that nearly half of China’s e-commerce purchases are already executed via smartphone, totalling 505.7 billion dollars of sales in 2015, compared to about one quarter in the US, according to eMarketer. This proportion is expected to reach 71 percent by 2019 in China.

Retailers expand creative shopping functions

China has conquered the mobile payment gateway with sophisticated apps such as Alipay and WeChat Pay. Offering secure payments, consumers have placed their trust in mobile payment options, allowing retailers to be more creative when it comes to shopping functions and to continue to create a more seamless path to purchase across online and offline platforms.

Integrated social media platforms within shopping apps makes for innovate mobile purchasing. Chinese retailers are trying out new functions to differentiate their mobile offerings, such as booking in-store fittings, speech-to-text input, and interactive video streaming.

Innovative approach to customer service

An innovative approach to customer service is a key differentiator for brands selling on mobile platforms. For example, Chinese womenswear label JNBY is one of the first to allow VIP customers to book offline fitting services via its mobile shop on WeChat, according to WGSN. Loyalty members can browse the collection on mobile and put items into a 'fitting cart', then they can choose a time, date and store to visit when the selected items are ready for fitting.

Other retailers are bundling their loyalty programmes on mobile as a bridge between online and offline shopping. Customers can collect or redeem points and get exclusive discounts by presenting their phones in stores. The next step is to come up with more thoughtful value-adding services that surprise the customers.

Discounting via geo-location

Discounting is also possible in a more limited capacity, such as using geo-location and real-time stock availability on mobile shopping platforms. Japanese high street giant Uniqlo’s mobile shopping app and WeChat shop regularly offer exclusive discounts for a limited period of time. Customers can shop directly on mobile, or check the location of the closest Uniqlo store that stocks their selected discount items. They can also choose to call the store with one click to confirm stock status, or pull up the location of the store in a map.

This makes the process of discovering products on mobile through to trying them on or purchasing them in a brick-and-mortar store much smoother, and gives the customer the option to shop on whichever platform they want to at any particular time.

It will be interesting to see the development of sales via smart watches. Having real-time customer service updates such as delivery tracking can only be a good thing.


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