3 Steps to Mobile Commerce Success in 2016
Last year, mobile commerce moved from promising opportunity to ubiquity. By the end of September, smartphone penetration in the U.S. reached 80 percent, and the 2015 holiday season saw nearly a 60 percent year-over-year rise in purchases on mobile devices.
With the number of mobile-only users now exceeding desktop-only users for the first time in history, 2016 presents a major opportunity for mobile commerce startups.
Yet it could be the last time for such an opportunity. The Internet of Things (IoT) is now part of our reality, and it took center stage at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. With new smart devices constantly emerging and the industry exploding, all of these trends point to one major change: by 2017, mobile commerce will simply be considered commerce.
So how can mobile commerce startups seize this chance to succeed exponentially in 2016 (and ensure they don’t get left behind by their rivals)? There are three key steps to follow:
1. Partner up to expand. It’s virtually impossible to do everything alone. As the last generation of SaaS entrepreneurs demonstrated, having a complete platform usually means having a strong partner ecosystem. Similarly, partnering up will not only help mobile commerce startups deal with the pace of change, but it will also help them balance two harsh realities.
First, retailers are slow to adopt to changes in consumer buying habits, especially when it comes to their brick-and-mortar stores. Partnering with companies that are already trusted by retailers can be a major boon for mobile commerce startups, speeding up their time to market and providing instant credibility.
Second, strategic partners can help expand solutions. Trying to build more features into a product — especially higher up the stack from where a company is used to working — can be notoriously difficult. The right partner will help meet these challenges and ensure that a mobile commerce startup provides the best value for retailers that are seeking to provide seamless shopping experiences.
2. Rethink the user interface and experience. The ways in which people use their mobile devices are constantly changing, and one of the largest developments in recent years is the rise of the IoT and chat. Messaging applications now have a collective audience numbering in the billions, and marketers are looking to capitalize on the fact that 79 percent of users say they're open to interacting with brands on these apps.
Spurred by this trend, mobile commerce companies must go beyond designing for screen sizes and work to amplify the shopping experience. Early adopters like KitCRM have allowed marketers to use chat interfaces to create marketing campaigns, and others have looked to IoT technology to deliver a whole new experience for users.
Babolat now offers a connected tennis racket that allows users to monitor and fine-tune their games. In theory, the rackets can now let players know when they need new ones and how strong their serves are. The racket can even send reminders that tennis balls are getting a little flat and should be replaced. The possibilities are limitless for mobile commerce startups to move away from simple optimization and toward offering new and exciting solutions for retailers.
3. Create richer experiences. Industry analysts once considered the consumer preference for experiences over material goods to be a recessionary trend, but evidence now suggests it's become a fundamental shift in generational priorities. A study published before the 2015 holiday season revealed that millennials planned to spend 52 percent of their gift budgets on experiential buys rather than products.
The best mobile commerce solutions will respond to this desire by focusing on experiences before transactions. Although Apple has created a new iTunes category for shopping, it's still dedicated to apps that will improve the “shopping experience.” Many retailers are embracing this millennial demand, from Target sponsoring SoulCycle classes to Urban Outfitters adding pizza as an offering to bring young people through its doors.
Mobile commerce startups should take note of these developing trends and stop merely trying to make e-commerce fit a mobile device. Instead, to win in this space, they must unlock the power of mobile to deliver sensational user experiences.
With mobile now becoming the main means of shopping for many users — and the third wave of retail, shifting brands’ focuses from unlimited choices to higher-quality products — mobile commerce startups are uniquely positioned to help retailers develop their customers’ lifetime values. To do so, however, they must go beyond simple optimization and offer new opportunities and experiences that really knock users’ socks off.
Anthony Nicalo is vice president, platform at Mobify, a mobile customer engagement platform that facilitates, in one place, all of a retailer's real-time interactions with its mobile customers.
Anthony Nicalo is the VP Platform at Mobify, a mobile customer-engagement platform that facilitates all of a retailer’s real-time interactions with its mobile customers in one place. Nicalo guides and grows the platform capabilities for serving mobile marketing and extends the platform ecosystem through partnerships. Nicalo is a thought leader in digital marketing, an expert in omnichannel commerce, and a frequent presenter on the future of commerce, mobile retailing, and shopper marketing, including at Shopper Marketing Expo, iMedia Summits and Kantar Retail.