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“We are constantly engaging one another as things develop in the marketplace, getting together on the phone and brainstorming,” says Scannell of Skymall. “It’s been really refreshing to work with a partner that has been as open and honest as CardinalCommerce, and as goal-oriented as we are. We’re not doing these things just to say we’re doing them, we have measurable objectives behind us and it’s essential for both of us to communicate constantly so we’re on the same page.”
It’s especially important for the vendor, retailers and vendors agree, to be constantly communicating.
“We’re the hub within that retailer because we live this mobile world, we’re constantly informing them on what new things are happening, what apps are out there, new ways of driving traffic to the mobile site,” says Sherwin of CardinalCommerce. “You need constant back-and-forth dialogue, not very formal monthly meetings. You can’t wait for a month to pass in mobile.”
While staying atop the latest developments is important, retailer and vendor teams have to be grounded in what’s possible and what’s realistic. Such was the case when Bornstein suggested to Bazaarvoice enabling customers in stores to use their smartphones to scan bar codes so reviews would automatically be displayed. The technology does exist to make this happen. The problem, Bazaarvoice advised, is that adoption of the technology by mobile app developers and mobile phone manufacturers is not significant enough to warrant an investment-yet.
“I was very excited,” Bornstein says, “but they educated me and put us on a realistic timeline to put this functionality in place. Retailers just don’t have all the expertise in this new and changing environment, so you need a vendor who knows what it takes.”
Skymall is adding new pieces to its m-commerce offerings but it’s keeping its cards close to its vest. The retailer will say that later this year it will debut mobile services around its loyalty card program, among other things. CardinalCommerce responded very positively to the new ideas, saying they were realistic and would add value to the mobile presence, says Scannell of Skymall.
“Cardinal has been willing and open to come to the table and discuss developing these options. They said they were exciting and were interested in the concepts and dedicated resources to make the concepts a little more structured,” Scannell says. “I can ask them to come to the table just like I can ask my own staff to come to the table to have open, frank conversations. ‘Is this something we should pursue or not?’ Then take it from there. That is not the type of relationship a lot of folks have with their vendors.”
But if they’re going to succeed in the fast-paced, topsy-turvy world of m-commerce, retailers must ensure they have such relationships with their mobile technology vendors. And if vendors have intimacy issues, retailers may want to think about shopping elsewhere.
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