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What do 2016 holiday shopping habits show us about enterprise mobility?

Since the introduction of the iPhone 10 years ago, mobile devices have changed our lives in innumerable ways, but 2016 may prove to be a tipping point in mobility. Not only did mobile internet traffic surpass desktop traffic for the first time, recent statistics from Black Friday sales show that purchases on mobile devices increased by more than 33 per cent during this year's sale compared to last year. And while these are shifting trends in consumer behaviour – they show the quickening growth of mobile applications, as well as the experiences that are most important to engagement and overall user experience.    

For retailers, having a mobile-friendly website or polished dedicated app is essential: A clunky user experience will quickly drive potential buyers away and cause a disastrous loss in profit. Consumers have come to expect personalised and intuitive experiences from apps like Poshmark, Airbnb and Uber, but this mentality still hasn’t completely infiltrated the business world. In the enterprise, many people have been forced to begrudgingly accept enterprise app experiences that are impersonal and complex. However, as employees continue to experience seamless mobile experiences in their daily consumer lives, their patience for unwieldy enterprise mobile apps is quickly running out.   

This is especially true as more mobile-native employees enter the workforce. For millennial workers, it’s no longer acceptable to use desktop-only applications or complex mobile apps. Young employees expect a consumer-style experience in the workplace, and know that tablets and smartphones can actually improve their daily work lives. In fact, businesses which provide employees with a well-designed enterprise mobile app experience can increase employee engagement, satisfaction and productivity.   

Companies looking to capitalise on mobility should turn to successful consumer apps for inspiration. Many of the leading consumer apps have mastered the concept of a simple consumer experience, created cross-device compatibility, and incorporated new technologies like chatbots and voice to improve the user experience.   

Create a streamlined app to ensure users don’t disengage

This year, sports gear e-retailer Fanatics Inc. saw an increase in mobile sales on Black Friday: 51 per cent of purchases were mobile in 2016, compared to 43 per cent in 2015. One secret to Fanatic’s mobile success is its intuitive app design, making it easy for users to shop and quickly check out. Fanatic’s mobile app is optimised to only show key buttons that the shopper is most likely to click on, with the ‘checkout’ button featured prominently on the screen. While Fanatic’s website has tons of different promos and dropdowns on the home screen, its mobile app is simplified to ensure customers don’t disengage during the purchasing process.    

Fanatic’s success shows that users crave simplicity from their mobile experiences. By creating an effortless “one-minute experience” for the shopper, the company was able to not only entice customers to use the app, but also to easily convert these views into sales. Fortunately, this is something that enterprises can also mirror.    

Providing employees with easy mobile access to core functionality of enterprise systems can save time and resources. Most employees don’t need in-depth access to various backend systems and software at all times, they typically just need snapshots of important information to get the job done. Just as Fanatic reduced the number of clicks it take a shopper to complete a checkout, enterprises can reduce information complexity for employees by constructing a streamlined experience on a mobile app.

Embrace all mobile platforms

According to data from Verto Analytics, the average U.S. adult consumer owns five devices, and almost 40 per cent of these consumers use smartphones and tablets concurrently. These days, purchasing and shopping behaviour take place across multiple mobile devices. It’s not uncommon for people to include multiple devices in their mobile experience. For example, consumers may begin browsing on their mobile phone, and then switch to their tablet to finally purchase their items. 

This behaviour signifies a clear expectation from consumers - they want to have an experience that is compatible across multiple devices.   The same goes for the users in the corporate world. Consumers don’t expect to deal with an unwieldy experience on a tablet when the same application works seamlessly on their other mobile devices. For modern employees, mobility isn’t strictly a one device proposition. Modern mobility includes multiple devices, so it’s important to enterprises to also embrace the concept of cross-device compatibility. 

Creating an enterprise app that delivers a common user experience across all mobile devices can be a make or break when it comes to mobile app adoption. For employees, the mobile experience is superior if it means using the device which suits their individual needs. This means ensuring a simple and beautiful experience across all mobile devices and platforms, and not solely viewing mobility through a single device lens.

Improve the user experience through chatbots and voice

Some companies have started embedding new technologies into their applications to improve the consumer’s experience. From chatbots to voice control, retailers are starting to take advantage of the consumer’s desire for integration and simplicity. Take Facebook’s eCommerce Messenger bot or the H&M Kik bot, for example. Instead of logging onto the retailers’ websites, users can literally order flowers or clothes through their favourite messaging platform. This integration has the power to not only increase retailers’ sales by reducing shopping complexity, it also makes the social media tools hubs for apps and services.    

Enterprises can take a page from the consumer world when it comes to integrating these user-friendly technologies. Enterprise collaboration platform Slack has started integrating chatbots into its real-time messaging features, and the company’s user base continues to grow. Bots in the enterprise can assist with all aspects of work, including productivity, HR, sales and finance. Consumers are now turning to new types of integrated technologies to expedite their interactions, and there’s huge opportunity for the enterprise as well when it comes to developing their own mobile apps. Not only could employees communicate with each other and third parties more efficiently, they could start to automate low-value tasks, leaving more room to focus on strategic and creative initiatives.    

This year’s start to the holiday shopping season has demonstrated what people are coming to expect from their mobile experiences. In addition to relying on their phones to communicate with friends, read the news and play games, most consumers are now comfortable doing their holiday shopping on them too. This continued acceptance is starting to take hold in the corporate world. The majority of people already check their work email on their phone, but for many, that’s about all they do for work on their mobile devices. 

There’s an immense opportunity for enterprises to take what consumer and retail apps have done well, and apply that to the creation of their own enterprise mobile applications. By developing simple, flexible one-minute mobile experiences for core businesses processes, companies can develop a mobile-first culture that also meets the evolving expectations from employees.   

Enterprises can learn a lot from the most successful consumer mobile apps, and by doing so can create a more engaging and satisfying experience for employees, ultimately boosting productivity and revenue.   

Oren Ariel, CTO and Co-Founder, Capriza
Image Credit: Nito / Shutterstock

Oren Ariel is the CTO and Co-Founder of Capriza,