Before developing mobile apps for smartphones and tablet computers, retailers must study how consumers want to use apps to research and shop for products, and the mobile devices they prefer for shopping, says Carol Steinberg, ShopNBC’s executive vice president of Internet, marketing and human resources.
Whether retailers develop and manage one app or several, web analytics is key. “In order to really manage and grow an app program, you need to understand what the customers want,” says Steinberg. “You need to look at the analytics and see how they are coming to the site.”
ShopNBC, No. 84 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has extensive experience developing mobile apps. In 2009, the TV and web retailing company operated by ValueVision Media Inc. launched a non-transactional iPhone app and then reworked the app to make it commerce-enabled in 2010.
This fall, ShopNBC plans to introduce an app for iPad users. The decision came after ShopNBC noticed that in a relatively short period of time its traffic from iPad users was climbing into the “double digits,” Steinberg says. “Our original app development was based on studying iPhone traffic and now we are seeing a big shift to more iPad traffic,” she says. “We know where they are coming from to shop.”
Whether a merchant eventually manages one or several apps as part of a burgeoning mobile commerce program, Steinberg says her best advice to conference attendees is making sure the company first builds a solid mobile technology infrastructure that can scale quickly. “In the mobile commerce business, change happens fast and furious,” she says.
Internet Retailer’s editors asked Steinberg to speak because she is widely regarded in the e-commerce industry as a forward-thinking mobile and e-commerce executive. Steinberg is a veteran Internet and TV shopping executive with expertise in online marketing, customer relationship management, strategic planning and business development. Previously, as vice president of David's Bridal, she was instrumental in increasing traffic to the retailer’s stores and web site. She also spent 12 years at QVC, most recently as director of online marketing and business development.