May 14, 2010, 3:42 PM

A brilliant piece of mobile merchandising

If you're going to create a mobile app, transactional or not, it has to be sleek.

If you're going to create a mobile app, transactional or not, it has to be sleek. It has to in some way be cool. It has to give consumers a reason to keep it on their smartphone desktop and use it over and over again. And ultimately, it has to in some way drive sales, be they on the device, on the e-commerce site or in a store.

SkyMall hit on something that is a stroke of genius. It added its own version of the classic game Concentration to their app. But with a twist—while you’re playing, they’re selling.

For those not in the know, Concentration involves remembering where two matching images are. You place cards on a table in rows and columns. Then you take turns turning over two cards per turn. The goal is to match twins and collect the most cards. What SkyMall has done is use images of products on the cards. When you match two cards, up pops a window with the product image and information. You can choose to add that product to your mobile shopping cart or close the window and continue playing the game.

Not only is that especially smart merchandising, it also shows that SkyMall knows its customers. If you’re waiting for a flight, or stuck on the tarmac, a game can be just the thing to pass the time. What’s more, the SkyMall app comes with the entire product catalog built in. So, you can browse the store and add products to your cart during a flight, without a wireless connection. When you land, you can complete the transaction when you again have wireless connectivity.

This is a great example of a merchandising tactic that is a perfect fit for mobile but not necessarily for the standard web, where people are focused on browsing or buying and don’t have to download anything to shop. If you want people to keep your app on their smartphone desktops once they’ve downloaded it and tried it out once, make sure it in some way has the cool factor. It doesn’t have to include a game, but it has to be an experience that fits the mobile form factor well and wows consumers as they shop.

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