Jun 23

Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 – Mobile Workshop



The IRCE 2011 took place in San Diego last week and had a full day dedicated to mobile ecommerce. To be more specific, the theme was "How the mobile revolution is changing the way all retailers will do business". I was there with Ed representing the Digital Operative team, and thought it would be a good idea to share some of the most interesting topics from the workshop with you. There is a lot to cover, so I will start with an overview of what seems to be "common sense" on mobile web these days.

The first half of the workshop had a good hour and a half dedicated to iPhone and Android lovers who presented all types of stats to justify why they think one is better than the other. All to conclude that, they are both equally important and retailers should not close their doors to such a big percentage of their target audience. With that said, there are many things to consider when creating an app. The first one being, do you really need one?. If you do, which one should you build first?
The answer to that is to observe user activities, and the first step to do so is to build a mobile friendly site. Let the users show you what they need. In the mobile world, what users DO, tells you much more than what users SAY. When building a mobile friendly site, there are a few known facts that shouldn't be ignored. I put together a quick list of things you should know when planning your mobile site:
  1. Speed: This is the single most important feature for mobile users. 42% of them expect a page to load in less than 2 seconds, and 58% expect the loading time on mobile to be faster than on the web
  2. Images > Text: People do not like to read on their phones. They are visually attracted by images and photographs rather than content heavy pages
  3. Simplicity: A mobile site is not meant to be a "smaller version" of your website. In fact, it will not work. People spend less time on your site when they are holding a mobile device. Keep that in mind and innovate the channel
  4. Taxonomy: On a mobile device, users should be one click away from what they want to find. Be straight to the point. Not too cute, not too funny, your mobile site should be EFFECTIVE
  5. Do it now: Truth is, you will change your concepts in the next 12 months. Experiment now. Learn now. Improve, optimize later.
Using some of the tips above, one of the retailers who presented their case study at this year's IRCE learned that 93% of his mobile audience were iPhone users. At that point, it became clear that an iPhone app would benefit his business. The lesson is simple - learn who you are speaking to before you reach out to them. Building an app can be expensive, it is definitely time consuming, and requires a lot of dedication - especially after your product is done. So you certainly want to reduce the room for mistakes. Start with a mobile site. Observe your audience's behavior and give them what they are looking for. Make peace with complexity and change. The one thing all speakers had in common (think iPhone and Android users holding hands) was that there is no set of rules. No one knows how different things will be in one year from now. All we know is that mobile web is growing fast, and soon there will be a saturation of apps out there. Make sure you establish a relationship with your audience now. Morgan Stanley predicts mobile users will outnumber desktop users in 3 years from now. Why wait, then?