Last week I talked with a renowned specialty merchant. They briefed me on the provider’s omnichannel advertising program, subsequently asked for help finding a “really cutting-edge tech to really define our mobile commerce strategy.”
A few things struck me when I noticed that.
First, on a trip back to Business 101, your marketing strategy is your trade strategy. You are able to calibrate your trades to the product pitch -- not exactly the other way around. Transactions are only around closing the loop, and also the mixture of buttons versus users attempting to click on seal the deal will not convert any trades on its own.
Second (and more concerning), is that after all the work a company has put into a very comprehensive outbound advertising program, it isn’t looking for a trick to welcomes customers into purchasing.
I get it. Merchants, banks, and consumers all desire frictionless trades, and nobody would like to be the tragically unhip business that can’t meet its users on their own terms. But let us put things in perspective: There is an infinite number of ways to permit consumers to transact on their mobile devices, and a few are more elegant and more effective than others. Technology, however, isn’t a strategy, and even while a poor checkout can lose a sale, a great one is rarely the reason a customer decides to buy.
"Mobile commerce" is not a matter
"Mobile trade" is a bit of a rabbit hole. As a concept, it is reasonable to look at all the ways users will transact on their cellular devices. But cellular commerce encompasses lots of completely distinct distances. Even a Square-enabled mobile POS, a video game offering in-app purchases, FeLiCa’s tap-to-pay system at train stations, and a retailer’s mobile-enabled site all match the standards, but there is little overlap. The spectrum of mobile trade into can be divided into six different areas:
Commerce website accessed via a mobile device
Mobile-optimized/responsive website purchase through apparatus
Mobile device payment in retail POS
Mobile app-only buys (e.g. Uber, Square)
In-app social media purchases (ex. Facebook, Twitter)
Mobile-specific rewards, couponing to induce physical shop traffic/transactions
The secret using mobile trade is handling it as a checkbox as opposed to a top-notch approach. Users must be able to transact on their phones, one manner or another -- that is a given. But the how of it’s determined by the advertising strategy and client experience. The correct strategy may not necessarily fit your competitors, and that’s OK.
App participation is up however the number of programs with which users interact has plateaued. In that world, Facebook has the scale and stickiness to create its own payment system, but few others reveal that luxury. Social game developers may look to Facebook credits because a payment alternative that could work together devices, even though a business-like Lyft, whose success is dependent entirely on its app, can concentrate on third-party mobile-only obligations like Google Wallet.
Starbucks built its own mobile commerce platform as an expansion to its current infrastructure, bringing trades, loyalty points to the phone in an easy, simple package that complemented and reflected its offline experience. As Kristina Yee writes in a coming Gigaom Research report, this proprietary “closed ecosystems” will get ground, despite a complete absence of standardization. At the exact same time, most of the world’s merchant’s deficiency Starbucks’ lock-in, also for all those businesses, a more lightweight mobile commerce channels might be more suitable. A properly trained cellular front-end to a current Web-based commerce engine may be more than sufficient to service user’s needs. When it could leverage a user’s existing saved credentials (such as an Amazon or Google storefront), then the Web-based solution may save time and headaches for customers and developers.
Mobile trade is an important part of any merchant’s plan, but it isn't an approach in itself. It’s always a fantastic idea to keep an eye on what’s new (and we are pleased to help our clients do that), but when we concentrate on the business case first, the technology options will be obvious.