August 4, 2011, 11:26 AM

Five tips to ace back-to-school m-commerce

Retailers should study up on creating simple and impactful mobile services, Tealeaf advises.

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Move beyond e-commerce lessons to craft an mobile strategy for the back-to-school shopping season.

Just as students have moved past learning solely the three “Rs” —reading, writing and ‘rithmetic—retailers who want to get the most from their mobile commerce efforts must move beyond their e-commerce lessons, says Tealeaf Technology Inc., which, among other services, optimizes web sites for the mobile channel.

It is not enough to apply e-commerce best practices to mobile, says Geoff Galat, Tealeaf vice president of worldwide marketing, especially during the intensely competitive back-to-school shopping season.

Retailers should develop a comprehensive mobile strategy to strengthen their m-commerce services, Galat says. “Many companies build a mobile site or app just because, instead of crafting a true mobile strategy that aligns to how they do business and how their customers might benefit,” he says. “Oftentimes companies’ mobile strategies have been reactive, where they build out some sort of mobile offering due to competitive pressure without thinking through which services make the most sense to offer, and which platforms make the most sense to support.”

Keeping mobile services simple will help retailers during the hectic back-to-school season and throughout the year, Galat says. “Don’t try to replicate the full online experience on a mobile site or app,” he advises. “Simplify the approach to make the most relevant functions easy to use.” This includes taking advantage of the build-in features of smartphones. For example, build a function that relies on identifying where the consumer is, using the phone’s GPS feature, and that delivers offers to shoppers based on their location, he says.

A third lesson is to ensure any metrics associated with m-commerce are visible and measurable, Galat says. “Mobile changes the way companies can understand user behavior, success and failure,” he says. Mobile commerce can be difficult to measure because it is so new and there are so many variables, such as which device a consumer uses and the operating system on the device, he says. But devising a way to measure the effectiveness of mobile commerce is essential because most consumers expect the mobile experience to be as good as or better than the in-store experience, Galat contends.

Retailers also need to learn from consumers’ bad m-commerce experiences, Galat says. A frustrated mobile shopper can easily use the device in his hand to let others know of his unhappiness via social networks and the review features of mobile app stores. Bad reviews lower ratings for apps in app stores, “driving users away from downloading your app from the app store,” he adds.

Listening to the positive and negative experiences consumers have with m-commerce is another basic best practice that can help enhance an m-commerce site or app on the fly during the back-to-school season and throughout the year, Galat advises. Listening to users is essential, he says, because it “gives you the foundation to evolve your mobile site and adapt it based on their feedback.”

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