September 1, 2010, 3:26 PM

Mobile app building takes customer know-how

The key to mobile app success is drilling down before building out.

Lead Photo

Carol Steinberg, senior vice president, e-commerce, marketing & business development, ShopNBC

Retailers hoping to build mobile apps that deliver great user experiences need to first know how key customers think and shop, says Carol Steinberg, senior vice president, e-commerce, marketing and business development at ShopNBC.

Steinberg, who will speak at the Mobile Commerce Forum 2010, Oct. 12-13 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, in a session titled “Creating an app that gives the customer everything she wants”, says ShopNBC drilled down deeply into web analytics and other customer metrics before launching an iPhone app in April 2009.

In the session Steinberg will talk about best practices for mobile apps and detail how ShopNBC built and then updated its iPhone app. She hopes to offer advice to retailers about how they can design or re-launch their apps.

“We knew what our shoppers wanted to do and that was to use their iPhone to see the top value deal of the day, the last 12 items ordered, the product we were currently featuring on the TV broadcast, and maybe browse the entire catalog” says Steinberg. “We built this app with a lot of our customer data already in mind.”

Retailers should build and then upgrade a mobile app that showcases a brand while at the same time delivering more value-added usability, says Steinberg. At ShopNBC, No. 89 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, the company upgraded its app in December with more commerce-enabled features.

The home page on the latest app displays buttons offering different ways to drill down through the site, including On Air Now, Products, Clearance, Check Order Status, My Account, Program Guide and My Cart. Product pages feature large images and offer multiple views of products. They also feature detailed product information, shipping information, and customer ratings and reviews. Customers can log in to their ShopNBC.com e-commerce site account at any time and checkout using shipping and payment information stored in their account.

“Mobile commerce is going to be a game changer,” says Steinberg. “We want to be cutting edge and build a strong technology foundation.”

Using a new web analytics tool from Omniture, ShopNBC now measures all aspects of its mobile commerce program and will eventually develop apps for other smartphone operating systems, says Steinberg.

“Mobile commerce is a natural extension of what we do,” she says. “To us mobile commerce is all about extending and bringing more usability.

For other retailers who want to build their own exceptional mobile app, Steinberg offers one key best practice: make the app easy, simple and fun to use. “Really understand what your customers want to do and what kind of mobile access they have,” she says.

Why the editors asked Steinberg to speak: 

Carol Steinberg is a veteran Internet and TV shopping executive with broad expertise in online marketing, customer relationship management, strategic planning and business development —and mobile commerce. Previously, as vice president of David's Bridal, she was instrumental in increasing traffic to the stores and web site. She also spent 12 years at QVC, most recently as director of online marketing and business development.

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