Swan Retail and Iconography Ltd explore how the mobile phone is changing the industry.

Gone are the days of having to boot up your desktop PC whenever you want to get online and send an email to a friend or co-worker. Gone are the days of having to drive half an hour to get to the shops to buy yourself a new sofa, only to find that the one that you want is out of stock. Everything is now, quite literally, at your fingertips. We are living in the age of mobile, and it is time to embrace it.

People love their smartphones. Some fans even go so far as to queue all night to buy the latest model on release day at full price; a rare phenomenon now that online pre-ordering is so easy.

The facts say it all. According to an Ofcom report in 2016, a staggering 71% of adults in the UK own a smartphone, and this can have a huge effect on mobile retailing. Indeed, 2.5 million people in the UK are buying on mobile every single day (Criteo, 2016). With more and more retailers making the shift to e-commerce, and the simplicity of mobile, this figure is almost guaranteed to skyrocket over the next few years.

But how do we tap into this almost limitless resource?

It’s all about delivering a competent, fluid, and easy-to-use experience and that all starts from the very moment a customer first visits your website. Perhaps the most important part of this is ensuring that your website is responsive. There’s no point in targeting mobile users when your website is either difficult to navigate or even unusable on a small screen: the design has to be clear, concise, and simple if you don’t want your customer to leave out of frustration.

From that point on its all about content, and this starts with the landing page. Thanks to the speed and convenience of mobile browsing, if your visitor can’t find what they want quickly, then they’re just not going to bother. In fact, according to a study by Chartbeat, 55% of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page: this means you have a very small amount of time to give them the information they need to generate a lead or clickthrough. When someone arrives at your landing page, they’re usually only looking for one thing, so make sure it’s right there in front of them. The landing page needs to be targeted depending on where they’re coming from e.g. if they’ve clicked a link from an email they’ll be looking for the product/offer that was in that email. Make the user experience as effortless as possible.


Another trend that has risen in popularity since the start of mobile is social media: now people can get updates on their friends, family, and world news in seconds wherever they are. This has the potential to provide a very efficient channel of communication from retailer to customer. More than ever, businesses can really start to forge a connection with their customers with very little effort, just by posting regular updates about the company and what it does. Social media can also be a wonderful tool to use as customer support, providing a place where the user can easily message the company to ask any questions about the products or the company itself in a relaxed, informal manner. Combine this with the portability of mobile, businesses can now reach their customers anywhere.

Whenever mobile is talked about, apps are sure to be mentioned at some point. I think we can all agree that apps are very useful and can often provide a more convenient and streamlined retail experience but retailers have to be very careful with this. Introducing an app just for the sake of it would be pointless, as customers simply wouldn’t download it. A report by RetailMeNot using data from a study by Forrester Consulting  says that “getting customers to even download an app is a challenge for retailers” and that “there must be a compelling reason for them to download an app” with the majority of them only having one or two retailer apps on their phones. The idea here is that the app needs to provide some kind of functionality and be more convenient than other channels so that the user feels like they have a reason to download it. An example of this could be a barcode scanner that allows the shopper to check an item in store and see offers, pricing, or even complementary products. Again, it’s all about giving the customer a more fluid retail experience.

For a lot of people, their mobile device is single-handedly the most useful research tool out there. With a few taps on a screen they can have every piece of information they could ever want about a product.

But how is this relevant to furniture stores?

Well, for most customers, a piece of furniture is a high involvement purchase requiring a lot of thought and decision making. How big is it? How much does it cost? Will it go with the rest of my furniture? While it’s true that most won’t want to buy these kind of products online, they will still look at your website to glean as much information as possible before making their purchase decision. It is your job to ensure that all of the relevant product details are easily accessed before they come and view the product itself. A more informed customer will be more likely to buy as there is less uncertainty. Equally important is that all relevant contact & location details need to be clear, so that a customer can ask any questions they have and find the store to view the product itself.

In short, a retailer needs to make sure that their website is responsive, easy to use, and informative. Once this is combined with strong content and online marketing strategy including social media and potentially apps, your business can really start to make the most of this digital and mobile age.