February 1, 2011, 12:00 AM

Mobile Must-Dos

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7. Enable location functionality

Macy's and Target's apps both do a nice job of allowing users to check store inventory from the product detail page. Target takes this functionality one step further and leverages Apple's device location feature so that the customer doesn't have to type in a ZIP code or city. With Gap's mobile site (top of next page), the customer can't check inventory, but her location is picked up and local stores are displayed, with options for further refinement.

8. Create customized checkout

Don't force your customers through a longer, web site version of your checkout when they should be using one designed specifically for the phone. Only include elements necessary to complete the purchase; now is not the time to collect extra marketing and demographic information.

Consider giving your customer the ability to scan bar codes or use other app add-ons. Sephora's app (see below) lets a shopper very easily scan a bar code of a product in the store to see the price, description, rating and ingredients. The scanning feature also works with bar codes of items in competitors' stores. Smart!

9. Allay security concerns

Many consumers feel nervous about the security of mobile phones and networks. Retailers can lower the payments barrier by adding an alternative payment system like BillMeLater or PayPal to a mobile site. This can increase site conversion among users who may not have an account with saved credit cards, do not feel comfortable checking out with a credit card from a phone, or simply do not want to take the time to type in a credit card number on a phone. Showcasing security symbols on checkout pages also can help.

10. Encourage repeat buyers

Getting repeat visitors significantly increases return on marketing spend. Daily deals or specials, like those Amazon offers, are a great way to ensure that people are engaged with the brand. Limited-time-only discount auction sites are moving aggressively into mobile, as 65% of the discount and auction sites (eBay not included) in the FitForCommerce study have a mobile commerce presence.

Retailers that sell on this first come, first served basis typically have limited inventory, and as a result they have honed the art of making it easy to quickly shop by phone. For example, Gilt Groupe notifies a shopper's phone (if she permits) when items in her cart are about to expire or when a sale starts.

Overstock.com also adds a daily lottery to its mobile app to ensure that consumers keep returning. If a shopper is lucky enough to score a deal (above), the discount is automatically applied at checkout.

Keep up on the buzz

Once engaged in mobile commerce, retailers need to every day read user reviews on the respective app stores and monitor social media for mentions of their brands on blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Take advantage of all the ways you can really hear what your customer is saying. Add this to a rigorous review of your site analytics and you will be able to test and refine your m-commerce offering, increasing your overall multichannel business. After all, mobile is just another channel to communicate with and grow a relationship with your customers.

Bernardine Wu is CEO and Jill Dvorak is a senior consultant and m-commerce specialist at FitForCommerce, a consulting firm that helps e-retailers define requirements and select e-commerce technologies. Wu can be reached at bwu@fitforcommerce.com. Dvorak, a former director of consumer e-commerce at Encyclopedia Britannica, is at jill@fitforcommerce.com.

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