Target and Toys R Us posted overall sales declines during the holidays.
Retailers that know how users are connected can have an easier time with mobile networks.
Timely deployment of mobile apps and knowing just how customers access a mobile commerce site can help retailers more easily deal with complex network management issues, says Jacob Sharony, principal consultant of Mobius Consulting, who will speak Oct. 12 at the Mobile Commerce Forum 2010 in a session titled Making sense of the mobile networks.
In this session Sharony will walk retailers through the network management best practices that will help them to avoid slow response times and also to develop apps that work across a variety of smartphones and other handheld devices.
Today web retailers must deal with a plethora of networks in deploying and managing mobile commerce sites, including local and wide area networks, context-based networks and close proximity networks, says Sharony.
While retailers may be familiar with local and wide area networks, which are closely associated with wi-fi networking, they may not be as up-to-date on context-based networks, which enable retailers to serve rich media and other content to shoppers with smartphones. Retailers also might not know much about close proximity networks, an emerging form of network connectivity that helps retailers target customers with products and offers based upon their immediate location and shopping circumstance.
Sharony calls the current complexity of mobile commerce networks “Swiss cheese with wide area networks being the body of the cheese and local area networks the holes.”
But to better deal with network management—and ensure that network connectivity is transparent to the mobile shopper—retailers can deploy apps for specific groups of users such as those with iPhones or smartphones that use Android or other operating systems. “The apps can be used to deal with the very issue of proper network management because they tell the retailer how the user will be accessing the content,” says Sharony.
Retailers can do a better job of network management and dealing with network-related problems such as slow speeds and limited range by knowing how their customers access their mobile commerce sites.
“If you know who is using smartphones, you can serve up very rich media to a targeted shopper using one network approach, while a text message to someone connected to a local area network may work just as effectively in that case,” says Sharony. “The key is to know and anticipate how they are accessing the content.”
Information technology managers also can provide mobile commerce marketing managers with more help by giving them information on back-end network issues such as “jitter” rates, which shows packet switching delays.
“Knowing more about these back-end metrics can help a retailer troubleshoot speed and proximity issues,” says Sharony. “The right mix of knowledge and interpretation can make network management easier.”
Why the editors asked Sharony to speak:
Sharony founded Mobius Consulting, an independent consulting firm focused on wireless and mobile technologies, after eight years with the Motorola (formerly Symbol Technologies) enterprise mobility division. At Motorola he served as senior director of research and development and technology strategy pioneering for novel wireless architectures and mobile products. He also is an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at Columbia University teaching wireless technologies. He has more than 35 U.S. patents issued or pending.