Mobile is a different type of silo

“Mobile shouldn’t be built in a silo” - This was the argument made by Crossview’s CEO, Mark Fodor, in his Mobile Commerce Daily article this morning.  Mark argues that the pressure retailers face to establish a mobile presence is very similar to what happened in the early days of the web, where the rush to move online generally lacked a customer-centric approach.  The result was a set of fragmented experiences that didn’t meet the needs of end users.  To make matters worse, many retailers don’t stop to think about how new channels might be different from their existing ones, and they unknowingly bring operational “baggage” (such as internal channel competition) to new platforms and unwittingly turn customers off.

In other words, online merchants should look before they leap, and in doing so they’ll avoid, “...frustrating customers who expect to have equal access to information and promotions wherever and whenever they shop”.  And while I’d say that Mark’s “equal access” argument plays a little heavily to Crossview’s value proposition for systems integration, he’s right on the money when it comes to thinking differently about mobile.

Mobile is a different type of channel

Mobile devices have a new set of features that tailor to the unique and differentiated demands of the new ‘mConsumer’.  Many smartphones come equipped advanced features such as GPS, accelerometers, video, and a high-res camera, while devices at the other end of the spectrum are limited to the ability to text and email.  The type of device a user carries is often influenced by their demographics - a distinction that might actually lead to, for example, different incentives and coupon offers across devices.

In any case, retailers that want to take advantage of all that mCommerce has to offer should start their strategy sessions by confronting the temptation to carbon copy all of their existing features for mobile, as well as identifying what new features they may need to introduce with with their mobile offering. 

Two recent examples come to mind...

Its a delicate balance, but these two approaches are well illustrated in the success of the Facebook and Amazon iPhone applications.  In Facebook’s case, they identified a core set of use cases that they released in the first version of the app (e.g. post status messages, view profiles, send messages, etc.) and then iteratively added or canceled new features from there based on user feedback.  The result is a well-adopted product that was one of the first to market.  In Amazon’s case, they brought their extended their existing storefront features to their app, but introduced a new “Amazon Remembers” feature that allowed users to take a picture of item they saw while window shopping at a physical store, and then add that item to their Amazon shopping cart.  The result in this case is a use case that disrupts every major retailer out there with a physical store.

Image Source:  Iron Horse Creative (amazing work guys)