Chapter X – Best Practices For M-Commerce

As explained in the previous chapter, mobile commerce becomes increasingly important as smartphone penetration rises and as the percentage of shoppers accessing the Internet via mobile devices gradually surpasses the number of desktop users.

Even more important, mobile devices revolutionize shopper marketing as they allow accompanying shoppers along the entire path to purchase with the use of one single application only. From increasing customer loyalty to the actual sale of products, m-commerce clearly blurs the classical borders between stages of the path to purchase.

As possibilities are virtually infinite, it might seem at first that mobile applications or websites are a must for every retailer or FMCG. Nevertheless, shoppers are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of applications available to them. Only mobile applications which offer concrete solutions to shoppers’ problems can be successful.

In this article we present best practices for mobile applications and websites to offer our readers some idea of how to use these technologies to improve communication with shoppers.

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Lowe – The inspirational app

US home improvement retailer Lowe developed an app with a wide variety of functions to accompany shoppers along the entire path to purchase.

At home, shoppers can browse the product catalogue, order items online and receive points for the company’s loyalty program My Lowe. Moreover, shoppers can consult a photo gallery with design ideas to get additional inspiration. They can then comment on these photos, share them on social media sites, and add items they like to their shopping list.

On-the-go, Lowe’s app includes a store finder function which directs shoppers to the nearest store via GPS or by typing in a ZIP code. Users then are shown a map with the corresponding location.

In-store, the app includes a bar code scanner that works for QR and UPC codes to allow shoppers to access additional product information. Moreover, employees are equipped with iPhones replacing the traditional scanner guns to provide shoppers without a smartphone with the same benefits.

Post-purchase, shoppers can choose to pick up a purchased item at the store or to have it delivered to their homes. Moreover, the app also allows shoppers to follow-up on recent purchases.

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Nike+ – The aspirational app

Nike took a very different approach. Instead of creating an app that accompanies shoppers along the path to purchase, the sportswear giant developed a program that is more directed toward solving a concrete problem: How can I motivate myself to lead an athletic lifestyle?

The app, Nike developed, is a success. Nike+ is already used by more than 4,000,000 professional and amateur athletes to improve their personal fitness experience¹.

The app was initially targeted at runners but was extended to all physical activities transforming movement in what Nike calls “NikeFuel”. Athletes can use the data retrieved from their training sessions to track and improve performance. The large online community also helps to find better routes, to get extra motivation through challenges and to share results with other athletes.

Nike recognized amateur athletes’ urge to track their performance but also to get some additional motivation. Product placement took a backseat although products can be purchased online. Recently, the company announced a corporation with Microsoft Kinect to allow athletes to engage in an interactive workout at-home with a very own personal trainer (see post on our Facebook site).

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Wal-Mart – The recreational website

Wal-Mart Soundcheck is a website that contains videos of live performances of international artists and behind-the-scenes clips.

Users have the option to compose their very own playlist while on Facebook they can compete for signed merchandise or all-access-area passes. The Facebook page so far received 30,791 likes whereas on twitter some 5,576 followers are receiving tweets from Wal-Mart Soundcheck. Although Unilever is exclusive sponsor of the website, marketing messages are very subtle.

The main goal of the website is to increase customer loyalty, drive traffic to Wal-Mart’s website and to increase the visitor’s average time.

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Pampers – The educational website

Pampers recognized that parents are concerned about their baby’s development and health whereas diapers play only a minor role. Instead of marketing diapers in a technical way (i.e. facts on fluid absorbtion), P&G began promoting diapers as clothing adjusted to the developmental stage of babies. P&G collaborated with fashion designers and product developers to produce more cloth-like diapers.

On Pampers.com parents can access information by developmental stage of their baby. Posts on how to find a pediatrician or how to choose a name help parents to solve concrete problems. In the “Gifts to grow” section, parents can choose coupons for various baby-related products. Point are accumulated by buying P&G products or by donating money to a charity. Parents can also upload videos of their toddler.

The educational websites receives some 1.5 million visitors each month².

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Conclusion

As the above-mentioned examples demonstrate, apps and websites can both be oriented toward accompanying shoppers along the entire purchase or toward solving a concrete problem.

Yet, due to the overwhelming amount of mobile applications available, companies have to carefully evaluate how their app or website will be different to create unique value to its shoppers.

In Chapter XI we define E-commerce and introduce differences between shoppers buying online and shoppers purchasing products offline.

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Did you find this chapter helpful?

Please share your opinion with us by commenting on this post.

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Sources:

¹ http://www.quora.com/How-big-is-the-Nike+-userbase

² Martin, D. (2009). Secrets of the Marketing Masters: What the best marketers do and why it works, First Edition. United States Of America, New York: Amacom.

http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2012/05/09/lowe%E2%80%99s-plants-app-strategy-with-shoppable-android-version

http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/commerce/12783.html

Screenshots of Lowe’s app

http://tipsfortablets.com/blog/?p=1756

http://blog.purehome.com/2011/diy-on-the-go-with-lowes-mobile-app/

Nike+

http://nikeplus.nike.com/plus/

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