The Importance of Mobile Optimization for Wholesale Businesses

Mandy Movahhed
January 21, 2015

The importance of mobile optimization in both the consumer and B2B worlds is obvious, exhibited by increasing demand among B2B buyers for a more modern, mobile buying experience. Across industries, wholesalers are looking to meet this demand by investing in mobile sales, B2B eCommerce, and order-writing apps. Indeed, a recent Forrester survey shows that 67% of B2B companies are in the process of implementing mobile omnichannel platforms or planning to invest in such technology within 6 months. 57% cited native mobile sales enablement tools as a priority. For wholesalers in particular, the mobile order writing/B2B eCommerce experience is of highest priority--even more important than the web experience. Your sales reps are writing orders in the field on tablets and smartphones, and the key to empowering them to do their job well is making sure that whatever order management application you choose was originally designed for mobile. Let’s take a look at what makes a great mobile experience, why it’s important, and what it means for your wholesale business.

The Importance of Mobile: What Makes a Great Mobile Experience?

Mobile screens are smaller than their desktop counterparts, driven by touch navigation, and--as you have likely experienced on your own smartphone or tablet--often used with a much less reliable internet connection. These are the characteristics and constraints that native mobile applications are designed for. By contrast, some vendors may simply be creating a mobile version of their existing web experience. While this may sound all well and good, this is essentially a web page (originally designed for your computer screen) that has been adapted for your mobile screen. It’s not going to be as seamless as a native mobile application, which was designed specifically for mobile devices. Some vendors ignore the distinction, claiming that they offer a mobile solution simply because their existing web-based tools can be accessed through a mobile web browser. In reality, there’s a definite difference--the difference between logging in at in your phone’s web browser and going directly to your Amazon app, for instance.

Why Are Native Applications Important?

If you’ve ever tried to buy something online on your phone using a web page pulled up on your smartphone’s screen, you understand the frustration that comes from attempting to tap those tiny text fields to type in information. You know that sometimes, when the connection is spotty, you could get interrupted in the middle of a purchase because the page refuses to load, resulting in the loss of all the information you’ve already managed to painstakingly type in. How many times have you watched that progress bar inch forward by the millimeter, wondering if the order was ever going to go through? Or tried to figure out whether or not your credit card was charged? By comparison, you’ve probably noticed that a native mobile application (like the Mail app on iOS, for instance) is much more responsive. The app is designed for quick taps and swipes, and those actions register instantly. You’ll no longer try typing an entire email using a web browser and then lose it when your train goes through a tunnel or you hit an area with poor data coverage. This is the value of a native mobile application.

Why Your Business Can’t Afford A Bad Mobile Experience

Today, 85% of B2B suppliers are focusing their technology investments on building an effective omni-channel strategy, including mobile. Most retail buyers begin their product research online, and like any 21st Century consumer, they regularly make purchases across all of their devices, including desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. Forbes contributor Micah Solomon explains, “the omnichannel customer experience should, and can, be all about providing service where and when a customer wants it.” Having mobile solutions, whether they include a B2B eCommerce platform and/or a sales order management application, will give your business and your customers that flexibility. Critical to success, however, is having a mobile app that can be depended on to work. A mobile optimized web application isn’t enough. To ensure your sales reps/customers can use the application with ease and speed, you need to make sure you’re giving them a responsive, intuitive mobile experience. A clunky, half-baked app would completely negate the goals of a B2B omnichannel strategy: convenience and efficiency. In the case of sales order management software, for instance, a slow app means errors and delays, as well as frustrated reps and customers alike. A fast, easy-to-use native mobile application, on the other hand, will yield more efficient interactions at trade shows, sales reps who are able to see more customers in a day, and faster order turnaround.   When looking for mobile solutions for your wholesale business, avoid vendors who put out what look like native mobile applications when in reality, they’re just wrappers around web content. It could mean the difference between moving forward with a modern, digital experience, and going back to dark ages of paper order forms. For more about the evolving B2B omnichannel landscape, check out this recent post.