This is Part 3 of a multi-part series on Insights for Agile Ecommerce. Check out  Part 1, Part 2, and download the full report here.

What would you say is your primary portal onto the internet? Your PC? Your phone? Your tablet? Do you use different devices to watch movies than to shop? What about your favorite teenager’s? What about your parents’?

The answer differs so widely it’s hard to even keep track, let alone pinpoint one winner. To complicate matters further, there’s an increasing trend for consumers to be using multiple devices at once – such as surfing their smartphone while watching an online television show. Perhaps an advertisement is shown that gets them interested in a product, and rather than lose their place on their phone, they go to their tablet to investigate further, perhaps even making a purchase.

Today, brands need to create a customer experience that is reflected by a totally connected journey across the channels and devices a customer uses. This is just one of the topics that analyst Mary Meeker presents in her latest internet trends report that Sailthru strategists have interpreted specifically for ecommerce.

The importance of a brand’s content presenting properly on a variety of screen sizes is highlighted early in Meeker’s presentation. She shows the exponential and explosive growth of tablets – a device many did not foresee; one which became popular very quickly. Additional data suggests that mobile devices will see a doubling of ecommerce activities by 2018, and that tablets already account for the majority of online purchases.

The need for a flexible user experience is further supported by a survey that Sailthru conducted in the UK, which showed that 57% of online shoppers preferred to make a purchase on their home computer or tablet, and that over half of those same people make purchases mostly from bed. These actions, even in bed, could be taken from any device – laptop, smartphone, tablet or television. Why does this matter? In the same study, we found that 42% of online shoppers say they have abandoned purchases because they were too difficult to complete on their device. These consumers wanted to give a brand money, and tried, but found themselves unable to do so. This gap in users who convert from mobile is alive and well, and every ecommerce brand needs to implement strategies to counteract the gap. Responsive, Screen “Agnostic” design is one of these keys.

Don’t Dead-End Mobile Viewers

Screen agnosticism isn’t only important in the home, and applies to more than just purchasing experiences. Meeker presents that social networks are no longer only accessed on PCs, but rather follow users throughout their busy days across various mobile devices, browsers and native applications. As brands distribute more messaging through popular channels such as Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, it’s important to keep in mind that those receiving the messages will want to interact with the brand on their device of choice. If they’re successfully acquired as a customer, they’ll revisit the brand on other devices – after all, we live in a multi-platform world – and these experiences, too, should be connected to the total customer lifetime experience.

For your marketing to be effective, you need to capture data across all channels and give your customers the same experience that you, yourself, most likely expect from other brands.

Competing For Attention

Customers not only use a variety of devices, but also interact with multiple screens at once. Meeker shows that 84% of mobile device owners use them while watching television, a statistic that has doubled over the past two years. They’re on social media, catching up on news, and researching products they may be interested in, all while watching their favorite shows. This not only impacts those advertising on television, but also those online, as consumers become increasingly fickle when deciding what is worthy of their attention. By having a second screen – possibly a third – added to the television viewing experience, an entirely new set of opportunities and threats are introduced to brand messaging. You have the opportunity to better engage customers, but also the risk of losing them if you fail to deliver relevant content.

For all of these reasons, ecommerce brands must focus on making the customer journey as easy, yet as connected, as possible, no matter what platform customers chose to use. Our client, jewelry retailer Alex & Ani, increased their online sales over 250% in 2013 by adopting a screen agnostic, omnichannel approach. Another client, Country Outfitter had such a great response to their new marketing strategies they were able to earn back their investment in Marigold Engage by Sailthru’s platform in just one month through increased revenues attributed to decreased cart abandonment and increased engagement.

We at Sailthru encourage all ecommerce brands to optimize their messaging to fit any screen, as the best way to encourage purchases is to find your customers where they play. However, if you want to drive them off, present a mismatched or illegible brand experience on their device of choice – I guarantee they’ll never come back.

To find out more about additional strategies for the coming year, DOWNLOAD OUR FULL REPORT.

— Jason Grunberg, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Sailthru.