Mobile Shopping Trends

Without a doubt the biggest challenge retailers have heading into this “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” is how to deal with are the challenges / opportunities mobile devices pose. 2007’s launch of the iPhone changed the way shopping would be done in the future.

Today the iPhone has spurred on a smartphone industry that includes; iPhones, Android and Microsoft devises and even Blackberry is making a comeback. We see consumers carrying both phone and tablet technology into retail spaces, but maybe even more importantly they are using these devises to shop from, home, the office, the car and even while walking. Smartphone sales have even overtaken the sales of PC’s.

According to Nielsen’s “”Who is the mobile shopper” report, as of Q1 2013, 84 percent of mobile consumers have used their devices to shop within the past month, which is up by 5 percent compared to the same quarter from last year. Some of these mobile shoppers even stated that they do their online shopping mostly on their mobile devices than on their PCs.

There are a myriad of studies that will point to growth of smartphone sales or increases in mobile transactions, which is all to point out that retailers and product marketers need to be studying, planning and developing plans around the mobile consumer. There are many challenges that face the mobile marketer today. What is the role of this technology to your business or how do you learn and capitalize on the features within the phone?

The first question that needs to be addressed is how do we balance in-store sales with digital sales. In a report from Business Insider, it was stated that brick-and-mortar stores are in danger because of “showrooming”. Showrooming is consumer going to brick and mortar location to see a product then going online to buy that product. And not necessarily from the retailers digital location.

Last year, JC Penny reported a 32 percent decline in same-store sales because of showrooming, and it is expected that the numbers would just get worse as more people embrace mobile shopping.

Why is this happening?
1. Digital is open 24/7/365
2. Online price comparisons

Rest assured all is not lost. There are a few trends that will allow for marketers to be in the mobile game.

Trend 1 – Geofencing & NFC (Near Field Communications)
Geofencing technology allows for the real-time delivery of promotions to consumers right on their mobile devices when they are in the vincinity of a retailers location. Consumers just have to be at the right spot, like a few feet away from a retail store, to receive relevant notifications. To get the discount or free item, they just need to present the promo code or the message they received from their phone. This technology will get people back in retail stores, hopefully enticing people to buy more items from the shop.

Near-Field Communication (NFC), is also rocketing into the mainstream. This technology allows mobile users to transfer information from their mobile devices to card readers in a store that supports NFC which will allow customers to pay with their mobile phones. Experts expects NFC to be the most widely used mobile payment solution by 2015.

Trend 2 – Price Comparison Will Become Automated, Reviews Will Be Centralized
Shoppers want to know that they are getting the best possible price before they make a purchase. Already there are dozens of mobile apps that help shoppers make price comparisons. Look for future applications to use information about a person’s tastes or buying habits to automate price comparison.

After price comparisons, mobile shoppers are likely to look for user reviews before making a buying decision regardless of whether they are planning to order online or pick up an item from a brick-and-mortar store.

Look for review sites that consolidate reviews to emerge. This will offer shoppers the option to see product or vendor reviews from a number of sources through a single interface on their phone.

Trend 3 – Social Media Via Mobile
Consumers need advise, opinion, research and help with decision-making on their purchases. They are doing this through social media. Social media integration and intelligent assistants like Apple’s Siri on mobile devices are expected to offer the same user experience as home computers. Consumers are taking pictures in your locations, they are posting, they are looking for reviews and they are asking opinion.

It is the marketers responsibility to have an active social media presence and provide the information the consumers is looking for in a easy to find, accurate, no-frills, none selling manner. Have a social footprint on all social channels and treat those channels as a sales associate.

Trend 4 – Mobile As Point-Of-Sale
Consumers are already using their mobile devices to research products and compare prices. So, mobile transactions are an obvious next requirement from the mobile consumer. Mobile must become a part of point-of-sale for brick-and-mortar stores, improving customers’ in-store shopping experience.

Major retailers are planning to offer mobile POS soon that will allow customers to find what they are looking for, to get more information about the product, and to make cashless purchases from their phones.

Trend 5 – QR Code Revolution
QR codes are not this writers favorite tactic, but research shows a resurgence. Quick Response (QR) codes are already being used by quite a few brands, but 2013 will be the year that most companies start creating and offering the smartphone-scannable tech to shoppers. The codes can provide offers in-store and online, as well as offer additional product information from the Internet about the products.

Trend 6 – Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) is another exciting mobile technology trend. Marketers can create AR applications that let customers to point their mobile cameras at products to obtain relevant information about the products, such as reviews and discounts.

Mobile shopping is in its infancy, but rest assured it is not going away and it is transforming the shopping experience. The key for marketers and businesses it to embrace the changes that mobile brings you. Understand early, that the consumer owns your brand and it’s your job to supply the consumer with the brand experience they want. Lastly, remember mobile is just another channel and that technology unto itself does nothing!

By Steve Rockman

3 Digital Trends To Watch In 2012

When you read about the CES happenings this week, two technologies dominated the show. Television and tablet technologies. How will these technologies affect how we interact each day? I believe there are 3 changes and or advancements these two technologies will have a major impact on.

1. Social TV. Contrary to some early reports about the effect of social media on eroding the television viewing audience, people are now watching more TV than ever. Just not necessarily sitting on a couch and connected my a cord to a cable connection. And because of social media, they’re more engaged in what they watch, we go to Twitter and Facebook with reactions in real-time. To the tune of millions of tweets and posts per second, in some cases. To the tune of 9420 tweets about Tebow per second when he throw the game winning touchdown last week.

The TV ad business is a $90+ billion and tech companies, social media firms, TV hardware companies, mobile carriers, and everyone else wants a piece. All this social TV engagement will help grow that revenue. It will drive participation in social shopping. And it will makes or break new shows, stars, and even commercials.

2. Gamification. Consumer engagement with gamified activities has exploded. What’s gamification? Really no different than the loyalty programs we are use too, but today we will see the integration of social sharing and the opportunity to make real dollars from these interactions. Consider that in the fantasy sports arena alone there are now more than 30 million Americans spending an estimated $800 million a year on their make-believe franchises. Gamification finds new ways to make money.

Gamification encourages people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, or reading your web site.

3. Location-based entertainment. NFC (Near Field Communications) will integrate and change the way we interact with our mobile devices. They will begin to be proactive knowing what we want and they will deliver what we want when we are a near a place we can get what we want.

The real benefit to a brand is the unprecedented amounts of data about these consumers that is generated via social and location based engagement. That geo-targeted or even geo-fencing data is used to research and identify segments of the fan base to launch geo-targeted ad campaigns and custom messaging according to each micro-demographic.

2012 will be an exciting year and the age of shareable, personalized content will explode. We will begin to see the changes in how we communicate, finally in an impactful manner.

Steve Rockman

Going Mobile Basics

Lately I have been asked a lot about mobile. Specifically, “Should I Have a Mobile Website or a build an APP?” If you are getting an answer to this question you are talking to the wrong people. The right answer that you should be receiving is that the decision is not Web APP or Native APP. There are more than 2 options! Technically there are 4 possible mobile options you should consider.

Native apps, which are coded with a specific programming language (Objective C for iOS, Java for Android). These mobile applications are fast, reliable, and powerful but are tied to a mobile platform. That means you must duplicate them using the appropriate programming language in order to target another mobile platform. Nearly all games are native apps.

Hybrid apps, which rely on development frameworks like Sencha, PhoneGap, Titanium, Rhomobile, ParticleCode, Corona, Mosync, Worklight, BkRender. These mobile apps offer a very interesting compromise because they ensure cross-platform compatibility and can access the phone’s hardware (camera, GPS, user’s contacts). IGN’s mobile social network Dominate is just such a hybrid app.

Dedicated web app, which is a mobile web site tailored to a specific platform or form factor, like the LinkedIn web app which was designed for Android and iOS, but not for other smartphones or feature phones.

Generic mobile app, which are mobile web sites designed to match every web-enabled phone, like the Wikipedia mobile page.

Ok, that gets complicated. How do you know what best to do? Good question. There is no best choice. It’s all about context, and that is evolving very quickly. What I know is that: If your mobile application is mainly used to display and interact with online content or services, avoid the native choice. On the other hand, if your application is mainly used offline, a native app will offer a better user experience.

In either case, what you should remember is that mobile is not only about choosing between web and native apps. It requires a more sophisticated approach. Here’s my advice to help you define an effective mobile strategy:

1. Build an API infrastructure to allow easy and reliable access to your content and services.
2. If you decide to use native apps, hire or train an internal team on major mobile platforms’ technologies (iOS, Android) and use sub-contractors for minor mobile platforms (RIM)
3. Don’t try to replicate your entire web site. Rethink your offer on a local level and focus on what brings most value in a mobile context.

To simplify a bit more lets compare Native APP to Web APP:

Native Apps: Must be downloaded from something like the iTunes Store, the Android Market, the Amazon Appstore, or a similar service. Native apps play locally on an iPhone, iPad, or other device. That means they ‘execute’ on your system not on a remote web server. In general, native apps provide the most options for rich media and interactivity.

Web Apps: Highly interactive web-based programs, such as the reservation system at American Airlines (, provide app-like experiences from a web site. Web apps play in a web browser over a network (for example: wifi or 3G). Web apps require advanced programming skills.

If you want to reach anyone, anytime, anywhere …

Native Apps: Most native apps require a relatively high-speed connection or a long wait for the initial download. After an app is downloaded, some can play anywhere, anytime, but many apps are designed to download additional information, such as GPS coordinates or news updates and require a connection for the latest information.

Web Apps: Web apps require users to be connected, but if done well, they don’t require a very fast connection and they can be updated in real time very efficiently. All web apps essentially run a program on a remote web server. Lose that connection, and you get nothing.

If you want to publish to many devices at once …

Native Apps: When you develop apps you have to create a version for each operating system. That means a different version for each of the following:
• Apple iPad / iPhone
• Google Android ‘Droid’
• Blackberry
• Windows Mobile
• and more …
Watch the growth of HTML 5 to solve this problem.

Web Apps: If you’re focused on the latest in tablet and touchscreen devices, you can do a lot with a web app. If you want to reach the broadest audience, you’ll want to deliver just the right version to each device using device detection and content adaptation.

If you want to spend as little money as possible …

Native Apps: At the high end, you can easily spend hundreds of thousands of dollars developing rich-media interactive apps, especially when you factor in all the video, animation, and other assets that make games and other applications visually appealing — and popular. Creating an app for the iPhone or iPad can cost anything from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the complexity.

Web Apps: A team of programmers and other specialists builds most web apps. Sites like Gmail and Twitter represent hundreds of thousands of development hours. At the entry level, you can create many rich web app features with JavaScript, jQuery, or jTouch. At the high end, you can do almost anything these days if you have the time, budget, and programming expertise.

Steve Rockman

Engaging The Social User Via Mobile

• Increase Your Likes and Comments – Find the evangelists. Marketers should focus on targeting the core of their community. Engage with your core audience to get better engagement.
• Text & Images – Mobile users are engaging mostly with text and image based posts. Don’t overcomplicate your mobile plans –
keep it simple.
• Be Engaging – Be conscious of the length of the post and try and keep the post length short and sweet. Remember that your community is engaging with your brand from a mobile device – shorter is better!
• Day & Time – Day & Time of posts are critical, then refine over time to build the best community. Understand that later in the week typically does the best, but test and learn within your community to find the best engagement days.
• The highest spike is at 3pm EST, which equates to noon/lunchtime PST
• 11am EST is also 8am PST, so we see a spike at 11am EST when west coast is coming online in the morning
• 8pm EST post and commenting spike accounts for post-dinner time and 5pm PST checking in before people leave work.
• Test – Test different posting times and gauge your community engagement.
• !!! – Be careful about overusing exclamation marks in posts. Keep emphasis based punctuation to a minimum. Your community is savvy and knows what messages are important, you don’t need to scream at them.
• Ensure your marketing strategy includes tactics for when both mobile and non-mobile engagement is highest. As an example, using an image post, as opposed to a text or video post, will garner better engagement from both non-mobile and mobile users on Saturday late at night, Sunday early morning or in the afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday.

Steve Rockman

The Future Of Your Smartphone

This is a summary of how I think,smartphones of the future (2015 – 2020) could change.
1. More AI and speech recognition and better gesture control
2. Context awareness and more integration with sensors and other phones
3. Different display options (rollable displays, better picoprojectors and more)
4. Increased processing power and better energy efficiency and management

2012 – Small Business To Go Mobile & Social

Ad-ology 2012 Small Business Marketing Forecast, one in five small businesses plan to invest more resources in mobile applications and advertising in 2012. As a result of their own experience with smartphones, the companies see mobile as a way to deliver a new ad message quickly. In 2009, only 2% of small businesses surveyed planned increased resources for mobile.

Only 10% will not use social media in 2012, down from 39% just two years ago. “Improving the customer experience” was ranked at the top of the social-media benefits list. In fact, the preferred way many consumers now communicate their concerns with a company is through social media.

I believe mobile and social will continue to impact the hospitality industry as restauranteurs and retailers will realize that the mobile user needs a much different experience than the desktop user. They will also learn that they must engage their target audience in dialogue when on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Other findings from the study for 2012:

* 29% of small business owners plan to increase budgets for direct mail.

* Newspapers, with their new emphasis on digital, as well as broadcast TV, cable TV and radio are also expected to see increases.

* Nearly 25% plan to increase their budget for daily deals.

* 45% plan to increase their overall advertising spending in 2012, with just 4% percent planning a decrease.

Steve Rockman