Four Tips For Creating An Integrated Mobile Strategy
By Erin Harris, Associate Editor
There's been plenty of buzz about mobile commerce (m-commerce) and how an integrated m-commerce strategy can be the next big thing to build your brand. It's true that m-commerce is growing in popularity and functionality. Gartner reports that by 2012, 30% of smartphone users will browse the Web to shop, resulting in 3% of the smartphone population conducting an e-commerce transaction. Gartner also reports that by 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. Progressive retailers are aware of m-commerce's maturation, but some need to be educated on how to jumpstart their m-commerce platform. You may be wondering how you can board the m-commerce train that's continuing to gain momentum. Here are four tips to help you get started on the path to an integrated mobile commerce strategy.
Step 1: Consider Screen Size When Building A Mobile-Optimized Website
Just a few days ago, I caught up with Fab Di Carlantonio, senior VP sales and marketing at Cactus Commerce, to discuss m-commerce. With regard to a mobile-optimized site, he had this to say: "Consumers are beginning to expect some form of a mobile experience from their favorite retailers. At its most basic, a mobile-friendly version of your current site is a step in the right direction." When deploying a mobile version of your website, remember that your mobile customers simply cannot view as much information on their mobile device as they can on their PCs. If you build a mobile-optimized site, start by deploying only the most important information (e.g. contact information, pricing for best sellers, stock status, etc.) for on-the-go users. You can always add more information to the site once its success has been validated. Be sure to provide a link to the full-browser version incase the user wants to access more.
Step 2: Consider Creating An App
Is a mobile-optimized website not ideal for your business? You can build an iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android app using one of several tools available on the Internet. Some tools are free, some are not, and few require programming knowledge. If you're going to create a mobile app, commit yourself to its upkeep. Even though retail apps aren't pervasive within the industry just yet, unaddressed performance issues may reflect poorly on your brand. Whether you deploy a mobile-friendly version of your website or create an app, the key is to consider mobile within the context of your overall cross-channel strategy.
Step 3: Quality Assurance Is Key
Survey, pilot, test, test, and re-test the mobile sites and applications that reach your mainstream users. Tech-savvy professionals create them, but your customers may not be as in tune with the technology as they are. Make it easy for your customers to act on your message or offering. If your user has a bad experience with your mobile website or app, they may write you off. And, it may be very difficult to win them back.
Step 4: Get The Word Out
Whether you've created a mobile-optimized website or a mobile app, rely on advertising to let your customers know what you're up to. KMart recently released an iPhone application, and the retailer is leveraging targeted print advertising campaigns to spread the word and influence customers. KMart also uses social media (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) to connect with customers.