On my way home from work in London yesterday, I ordered food through JustEat with a few taps. Halfway home, the Tube broke down (sigh) and I found myself racing my fellow minions to the surface to find alternate transport.
With Hailo, I had my taxi booked and paid in two taps and avoided the long line at Paddington station. Annoyed by my delay, but glad to be on a direct path home, I rewarded myself by booking tickets to see an up-and-coming pianist on YPlan for later that evening. Two taps and the tickets were in my phone.
In all of these situations, I used my smartphone to solve my problems on the go. If I hadn’t used JustEat, I would have picked up food from Sainsburys. No Hailo? Stand in the taxi rank. No YPlan? More telly at home. My smartphone didn’t replace my online purchasing habits – it complimented my real world life. And that’s where the real power of mCommerce is just starting to be realised.
I’m time-starved. My days are filled with meetings and crises that relegate my chores and personal life to my increasingly small amount of free time. My mobile, however, has the power to solve those annoying tasks when I have unused time. Instead of tapping away at mobile games, I prefer to tap away at my to-do list.
But why are no established companies on the list above? Everyone seems to talk about being ‘omnichannel’, but what are they actually doing? Some are shrinking their desktop sites so I can read them on my mobile. A few have even built apps that replicate the desktop site with a more appealing look and feel. But most have done nothing except write ‘Mobile’ at the bottom of their advertisement next to ‘In store, Online’.
Hello? Favourite brands, do you remember me? I’m your loyal customer. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve bought a smartphone, and I use it for its smart features. My phone has a small screen. It takes a long time to load up complicated pages.I’ve been taught to expect exceptional design that makes using my phone intuitive. I use my phone ALL the time.
Bored in a meeting, on my commute, sitting on the toilet (sorry, but we’ve all done it), it is with me whenever my mind wanders. I want to take care of my errands. I’m more susceptible to impulse buying. I WANT to buy things. Please, let me buy things from you because I already know I trust you. But could you try to understand me first? I don’t want too much choice. I want things to be easy. I like to download apps because they work better in general and even underground.
Understanding mobile commerce and its future requires a deep look into consumer behaviour and how they are engaging with connected devices and the products and services your business sells. Most importantly, you must understand YOUR customer’s behaviour. What need does your business satisfy for them?
Is that need the same at all times? If different, how? Why? How much choice do they want? Are there complements or substitutes that are different based on where/when they do or could engage with you? Would they buy these from you if you offered them? Start with these questions and commit yourself to a process of discovery.
Many pundits say that ‘consumers want to browse on their phones and delay purchasing to later’. The leaders in mobile recognise this isn’t true. We DO want to buy things on our phones, but not in the same way that we want to buy things face-to-face or on our desktops or even on our tablets.
This is creating a massive amount of opportunity and risk for both new and existing businesses. It’s a zoo out there, with all sorts of entrepreneurs trying to penetrate your customer relationship. If you don’t learn how to serve your customer on mobile, someone else will, and winning them back will be very hard.
Mobile needs to be thought of in three separate and very different categories: tablets, mobile web, and native apps. Overly simplified, tablets are primarily used as a replacement for desktop; mobile web is about customer acquisition; native apps about customer loyalty.
For most businesses, the place to focus your investment is in native apps; savvy business owners know that holding onto and growing share of wallet with your loyal customers is the fastest way to increase sales and profits. Yes, ensure your website is mobile friendly. But if you want real bang for your buck, build an app that makes your best customers love you even more. And for heaven’s sake, make it easy for them to give you their money.
* Dennis Jones is CEO of London-based Judo Payments, the leading provider of card payments for mobile apps that increase browser to buyer conversion.