Mobile On the Mind
A trio of experts, including Joe Megibow, president of Joyus; Matt Kennedy, senior director of digital marketing, Wal-Mart; and Bob Bentz, author of “Relevance Raises Response: How to Engage and Acquire with Mobile Marketing,” answered a series of questions via email on how retailers are using mobile to better serve today’s always-connected consumers. (For some of the questions we’ve separated out Bob’s answers from Joe and Matt’s since he’s speaking from the perspective of a consultant, not a retailer.) Here are some of their answers.
Total Retail: What are the primary goals for your customers’ mobile websites, apps? How are they measuring performance against those goals?
Bob Bentz: For most of our retail clients, it comes down to e-commerce sales. It’s easy to measure that metric, at least on the e-commerce side. Measuring in-store lift becomes increasingly difficult. Although there are solutions out there, I don’t think anybody has the special sauce yet.
TR: What are the primary goals for your mobile website, apps? How are you measuring performance against those goals?
Joe Megibow: As a pure-play, every online engagement is important. Most of our traffic is on mobile, and we’ve built a responsive site that supports both desktop and mobile directly. As we continue to refine our site, we’re focusing on mobile first, which is really just designing for the majority of user experiences.
Matt Kennedy: The future of commerce isn’t just going to shift entirely to e-commerce or mobile, and it won’t stay exclusively in brick and mortar. It will be a blend as customers are looking for more choice and convenience when they shop. Their expectations have shifted; they want consistent, seamless brand experiences regardless of whether they visit via mobile, online or in-store. That’s why we’ve created new ways for customers to interact with Wal-Mart digitally across our website, stores and mobile app.
Wal-Mart customers are mobile. More than 65 percent of our customers have a smartphone (over 80 percent of our millennial customers). Last holiday, more than 70 percent of traffic to Walmart.com came from mobile. Last year, more than 22 million people used the Wal-Mart app each month, according to comScore.
We’ve built our mobile app experience to make shopping Wal-Mart faster and easier for customers. When they’re in our stores, our app has features that enable them to find products, check local availability and prices, and pay quickly for their purchases with Walmart Pay. When customers are on the go, our app also allows them to search for products carried in their local stores and through our extended assortment online, purchase products, and choose convenient home delivery or pickup at more than 4,000 Wal-Mart stores across the U.S.
TR: How is mobile managed within your company?
MK: Retailing is the heart of Wal-Mart, but technology and innovation is part of our DNA. It’s what fueled our growth for the first 50 years, and will be the engine of growth for the next 50 years. Mobile is part of our @WalmartLabs team here in Silicon Valley. The group works with a wide range of cross-functional teams from e-commerce and stores to ensure the capabilities we launch are aligned with our goal of making shopping faster, easier and more convenient for customers.
JM: As a pure-play, we’re all the e-commerce team! And mobile and desktop are all managed as a single platform.
TR: How is mobile disrupting traditional brick-and-mortar retail?
JM: As mobile becomes a viable content channel, especially with video, the ability to discover and be inspired via mobile is growing rapidly. Joyus is all about the intersection of content and commerce, where video allows for discovery and delight. With the majority of our traffic coming from mobile devices, we’re seeing significant video views on mobile — which translate into happy, buying customers.
BB: One of the biggest disrupters is showrooming. It’s incredibly frustrating for a retailer to engage a shopper in-store, only then to have them search and find a cheaper price online.
MK: We’ve embraced mobile because we know that our customers are shopping with us via mobile. Currently more than 11 million items from Walmart.com can be ordered from our mobile app. We see countless possibilities to make shopping faster, easier and more convenient for our customers. We’ve geo-fenced all of our stores across the U.S., which has enabled us to surface store-specific information (e.g., local pricing of items) as customers open our app when they walk into our stores.
Geo-fencing has also enabled our customers to notify us they’ve arrived to pick up an item they ordered online. Our app allows customers to search for specific products in-store, and will then direct them to the specific aisle to find the product. And Walmart Pay is the latest example — and a powerful addition — of how we’re transforming the shopping experience by seamlessly connecting online, mobile and stores for the 140 million customers who shop with us weekly.
TR: What are the top challenges your customers are facing in regards to mobile strategy?
BB: An overall lack of knowledge. I continue to meet savvy traditional advertising agencies that simply don’t understand mobile, so it’s not surprising that retailers are missing the boat as well. If you don’t have the mobile expertise in-house, you need to find it by educating your current employees, hiring a mobile agency or bringing in a new associate that understands mobile.
TR: What are the top challenges your company is facing in regards to its mobile strategy?
JM: Part of our strategy involves syndicating our content and shopping experience across a variety of social and media channels. This is sometimes referred to as distributed commerce. We’ve built a shoppable video player that allows for interactive product exploration and purchase right alongside the video. And the player can be deployed on any of our partners’ sites.
With mobile, however, this becomes even more complicated, not only because of small screens, but because of variations in format — e.g., vertical video, square video and horizontal video — and interaction challenges such as the lack of “autoplay” (i.e., the user has to take an action to start the video). Therefore, we’re not only learning to efficiently edit and deploy our content for a variety of formats and audiences, but are also working to build a distributed mobile experience that “just works” for our customer, wherever they may be consuming content.
TR: What are some mobile successes that your brand has realized?
JM: We’ve really worked hard to make mobile a first-class experience, so a common challenge such as mobile performance hasn’t been a source of friction for our customer.
BB: It isn’t very sexy, but SMS and MMS marketing represent the best mobile return on investment that our customers enjoy. Ignoring messaging is a big mistake.
TR: What technologies will most impact mobile commerce?
BB: I’m skeptical of beacon technology. It seemed like a great idea, but I’m not seeing a lot of great results at this point. Mobile payment just makes so much sense for retailers. Why are we carrying around 10 credit cards when using a mobile phone is easier and safer to pay with? I continue to hear consumers say that mobile payments aren’t safe, when in reality, if you use the fingerprint proof, they’re far safer than credit cards. When is the last time your credit card was stolen online? When was the last time your fingerprint was stolen?
JM: Simplifying the transaction will definitely be a huge win for customers. Simplified payment is part of that, but also technologies like Touch ID dramatically improve log-in rates, which simplifies getting to account info as well.
TR: What’s your forecast for mobile going forward, both industrywide and at your company?
JM: Mobile is here to stay, but it’s not just about mobile. There will be a proliferation of end points for content and interaction, including TV and internet-enabled devices. We’re designing such that our content and platform will ultimately adapt as consumers engage in diverse and exciting new ways.
BB: If your retail business plan doesn’t include a mobile strategy, it isn’t done yet. Mobile doesn’t yet get the credit that it deserves. That’s because mobile is often at the top of the sales funnel, and while the initial research is done there, the actual purchase may still be done on desktop. There are multiple touchpoints along the way that include mobile, and retailers need to be there for consumers when they’re both researching and purchasing.
Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.