July 30, 2010, 10:35 AM

A mobile recommendation for web sites

Innovation in mobile commerce is likely to spill over into more useful e-comerce sites.

Good things in business and technology often come from trial and error, and at times quite unintentionally. That may be another reason for developing a mobile commerce strategy if you haven’t already embarked on one—and it’s a tack that could prove important for your web site as well as your mobile presence.

In a recent conversation I had with Susan Aldrich, senior vice president and senior consultant at Internet research and advisory firm Patricia Seybold Group, she talked about the growing recognition among online retailers of the importance and value of deploying a state-of-the-art personalization and product recommendation  system. One looming challenge, however, is how to best deploy such systems on mobile commerce  sites. “With mobile, you don’t have a 20-inch monitor, but a couple of square inches if you’re lucky,” she says.

Still, she insists, recommendation engines and mobile sites were meant for each other. With smartphones capable of browsing the web becoming ubiquitous, retailers will need to maximize their presence on them. But with such limited real estate for showing content, mobile sites can greatly benefit from technology that presents what a mobile commerce shopper is most likely to want to view and purchase.

There’s design work to be done, of course, but it could bring big dividends, Aldrich says. “We’ll have to invent ways to improve how recommendation engines work on mobile sites,” she says.

Meantime, she warns, traditional web sites may find themselves playing catch-up with the last forms of web site responsiveness and functionality. “Mobile is going to drive a lot of innovation in the next few years,” Aldrich asserts. “And then we may ask, why don’t regular web sites work that way?”

The message seems clear enough: Online retailers that press ahead with the most useful mobile experiences for consumers will be in a better position to learn how to improve the overall way they connect with consumers.

 

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