Julian Grainger

Head of SEO at Unique

An m-commerce check list

I’ve just withdrawn our mobile product so we can for revise and (hopefully) relaunch something more suitable and more successful for our customers.

What we have withdrawn are several text alerts and a user initiated send and receive service for data on shares. The product was good, well put together and reliable. However it never really did the business for us and while it had it’s fans, it was clear it didn’t fit most of our clients.

So part of the review is what went wrong? And the easiest way to approach this is what would be right? Luckily I’ve been involved in m-commerce as an early adopter and lucky enough to work on a couple of NZ’s major mobile applications. Here are the ingredients that got it right for them.

1. A commonly consumed service

All the top mobile services I’ve worked with are commonly consumed outside of the mobile world. This one is obvious, if a service has demand elsewhere there is potential to move it onto a mobile. Kiwibank’s TXT Banking follows this – everyone checks their balances, some people regularly.

2. Convenience extends consumption

All show greater usage as the medium in which it is consumed becomes more convenient. M-top up was a huge success for Vodafone as it linked bank accounts with mobile accounts and ensured faster payment of prepaid phones. The result was more calls and more revenue.  In the internet world share market data increased consumption as it moved to the internet from newspapers. So going to mobile should increase consumption? It did for the ones that used it but ….

3. The tribes got to like the phone

By this I include phones that text and phones like the iphone.  Mobile internet never took off as well as it has without the iphone. The iphone overcomes a lot of usability issues like screen size, navigation and pure enjoyment of the device. Enjoying the device is key, people will remain curious on how much more they can get out of the phone. Whereas SMS on any phone was never a favourite of 50 year olds. What is to enjoy about SMS? They were more happy with the internet. Bigger screens, bigger keyboards. Proof? Bloomberg’s iphone app versus our SMS service. Same customers, very different result.

4. It’s easy

Easy to install (if at all), easy to use, no guide required. If it isn’t easy and intuitive then you have a main barrier to adoption. The willing is often their but the will to persevere should be on the your developers, not your consumers. Java applications suffer from this.  They’re good applications, easy to use but unless they are on the phone when it is bought it is very difficult to drive adoption. Webraska’s navigation application has benefitted greatly from OEM partnerships. Whereas banks have had to spend millions on marketing to gain traction for mobile banking.

5. It’s (often) free

Don’t try to charge for anything where you are asking the customer to take a leap. They fear looking stupid and making them pay rubs salt into the wound. Make them pay later when the value has been proven.

6. It fits

The application has to match the customer base, the company, the brand, the product suite and the offer. IT needs to look like a natural thing for the business to do with the customers they have. Orphan products no matter how cool, innovative, useful and demanded will never be as successful without a fit.

Feel free to add more.

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