If your business is online and lacks integrated mobile commerce capabilities, you’re missing out.
Thus far, many companies have made a decision to proceed with app creation despite the lack of development in a long-term strategic plan. The novelty of having an app has caused them to stray from their priorities and capabilities and has led to the creation of apps that fail to deliver real value to the user. According to an Adeven study in 2012, 400,000 apps have failed to receive even a single download.
There’s no doubt smartphones have dramatically changed the commerce landscape. Mobile commerce has evolved from a “nice to have” feature to a major profit driver for many companies. Coming to market without a true solution in today’s reality holds consequences. There was a time when simply having a website was enough. Now, a bad experience can have significant impacts on your bottom line, overall customer satisfaction, and the interpretation of your brand. The best path to success is a map incorporating your short and long term goals that account for your budget, current resources, and desired timeline.
1. Start with a clear strategy. Why mobile?
Establish the mobile goals of your organization so that you can guide the budget and development timelines to support them. You could be looking at distinct primary goals: Give buyers a research tool? Increase customer loyalty? Adding channels to increase sales? Attract the mobile user?
Your mobile strategy development needs to focus on the strategy that is correct for the business and not based on the technology that is currently available either in the market or available to the business. Where will you be one year from now? Two years? Where is technology heading? Where is your business heading?
You also need to understand how mobile will fit into your current strategy and what it will add to the overall customer experience.
- What roles does mobile play in the overall strategy of the business?
- How can mobile help drive activity across multiple channels?
- How will we measure success?
- How can we grow and expand our markets using mobile?
2. Mobile Site or Mobile App? Understanding the difference and how to decide
Mobile websites will appear in the browser of your mobile phone and are great because they don’t require you to download anything. With advances in technology like HTML5, these mobile sites have more app-like abilities than ever before. Even better, they are compatible with a wide range of devices so you don’t have to develop specifically for iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry, or any other device.
Mobile apps are operating-system specific and must be downloaded from a central market like the Apple App Store. You can get a little more functionality like GPS or saving locally however you need to build for each platform to leverage the technology of that particular device.
Both are likely to prove successful. Web based mobile retail went up by 400% from 2009 to 2010 and was up 91% for app based retail. Doing both is a great option if you can afford the development costs and extended release timeline.
3. Which device to start with?
Apple users are currently the top dog in the market in engagement with mobile devices (iPhone, iPad) followed closely by Android. Behind those two, you see Blackberry and Windows phones and many other niche devices.
iPhone – The safest starting point. Users tend to have the highest level of engagement and are more likely to purchase apps. iPhone users also average more applications per user (48) and have a higher percentage of users accessing the mobile web (85%) than any other device.
Some iPhone User Stats:
- 18% more likely to me female
- 27% more likely to live in a city
- 29% more likely to be 35+
- 37% more likely to have a graduate degree
- 39% more likely to label themselves as “high maintenance”
- 50% more likely to have visited more than five countries
- 50% more likely to be early adopters
- 22% more likely to have more than three email addresses
- 50% more likely to text while driving
- 54% more likely to pass time waiting in a long line by checking email
- more likely to watch Portlandia, Planet Earth
- more likely to watch Midnight in Paris, Beginners
- more likely to read Switch, Freedom
Some Android User Stats:
- 10% more likely to be male
- 17% more likely to live in suburbs
- 80% more likely to have only a high school diploma
- more likely to be pessimists
- 12% more likely to be introverts
- 29% more likely to prefer saving money
- 71% more likely to have never traveled out of the country
- 31% more likely to be late adopters
- 35% more likely to have only one email address
- 35% more likely to pass time waiting in a long line by texting
- more likely to watch Louie, How I Met Your Mother, and The Walking Dead
- more likely to watch X-Men, Harry Potter
- more likely to have read Lord of the Rings, 1985
Mobile Site – After iOS and Android, we see a substantial drop-off in the returns from the development time/costs associated with each new device. This is where a cross-compatible mobile website would be most beneficial. You can develop once and have it accessible across multiple smartphones and mobile devices. The coding is in standard web language and can help keep costs low.
It is important to examine exactly how your target market is engaging with mobile content and this will guide further development and optimization. Budget restrictions amplify the need to select the right device and platform to develop your mobile strategy around.
4. Own it or outsource it?
The technology used will be important, whether developed in-house or brought in from an outside agency. Sometimes, a low-cost outsourced solution is fine but will it be feasible for long term growth or will you be looking for a better solution a year from now?
From least expensive, least control, and fewest features:
Mobile Service Provider – A company offers a completely outsourced solution that is standardized but includes an upfront cost and a monthly or annual subscription. Usually ok for the short term but can get expensive if used for long period of time. There are also very limited options for customization.
Software Provider – A software company with ecommerce and mobile expertise. Might lack proper experience to properly apply the strategy but the product itself will be more customized than a mobile service provider.
Agency – Full service agencies with experience in mobile will give you the greatest range of choices and customization of any of the service providers. They also have experience and insight useful in the development and deployment of your mobile strategy. Custom projects on this level are usually more expensive however.
In-House – You build your own app and expand on what you currently have as you go forward in the future. You have total control, however getting the requisite experience and technology for development can be costly and time consuming.
5. What assets do you already have?
It isn’t always necessary to develop entirely new technologies when creating a mobile strategy. If you have a website, you can turn it into a mobile-friendly site without undergoing all-new website development while still avoiding the potentially expensive costs of native application development. You should try to extend what you have into your mobile strategy and then – only when you’re ready – go outside of your resources to make significant investments in achieving your long-term goals.
6. Following your long term and short term goals
Making a large investment in mobile is not something many can afford upfront. Instead, follow a path of increasing investment. Invest in a strategy that achieves your short term goal while best positioning you towards reaching your long term goals. Making incremental investments and improvements allows you to fine tune your strategy both in the short and long terms. Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate and re-establish your goals frequently.
Not convinced you have a mobile strategy for 2013
Consider these statistics:
- Retailers’ apps with store-mode (in-store navigation, product locations, shopping lists, etc) gathered five times more engagement. [source]
- Consumers spent six times as much time in retailers’ apps in December compared to a year earlier. [source]
- 70% of shoppers used a mobile phone while in a retail store during the holidays, 62% of those accessed that store’s app and 37% accessed a competitors retail app. [source]
- 25% of international media executives see mobile as the most disruptive force in their industry. [source]
- 80% of smartphone owners want a more mobile-optimized product information while they’re shipping in stores. [source]
- Worldwide mobile payment transactions surpassed $171.5 billion in 2012. That’s up 62% from 2011. [source]
- In terms of the types of information mobile users were looking for from their devices during the 2012 holiday season, 31% wanted sales/promotions, 27% will look for local store hours and directions, 26% want to find product information and availability, 26% want product photos,18% will search for official retailer apps, and 17% will use mobile for customer support. [source]
- Global mobile traffic grew by 70% in 2012. [source]
- In 2012, tablets generated 2.4x more traffic than the average smartphone. [source]
Cisco’s predictions for mobile:
- Global mobile traffic will increase 13-fold between 2012 – 2017.
- By the end of 2013, there will be more mobile-connected devices than people on earth.
- Two-thirds of mobile data traffic will be video by 2017.
- The Middle East and Africa will have the strongest mobile data growth rate of any region at 77%.