Mobile Commerce Maturity: Thoughts from Mobile Commerce Forum 2010

The 2011 Mobile Commerce Data book

This week I had the opportunity to present during two sessions at Internet Retailer’s first annual Mobile Commerce Forum. For an inaugural event, the show was impressive, packing a tremendous amount of content related to mobile marketing and commerce into two days of sessions. I’ll get to some of that detail in a bit, but first, some context:

Acquity Group’s work with Internet Retailer over the past few years has focused on detailed assessments of the mobile capabilities of the organizations listed in their Top 500 Guide. Recently, we worked with them to take an even deeper dive into the mobile commerce capabilities of 249 organizations in the retail, travel/hospitality and ticket selling industries that were already active in mobile, running through full scenarios for in-context shopping and buying across multiple mobile devices.

One of the key takeaways from our research and analysis is that although organizations are beginning to finally incorporate mobile into their overall digital marketing and commerce mix, we still have a long way to go in terms of widespread adoption and maturity. The analysis we performed for the 2011 Mobile Commerce Data Book shows that, of the 249 organizations evaluated, 85% have a mobile site and 48% have at least one mobile app available. Those are good numbers, but the fact that the organizations in the analysis pool were all already active in the mobile space has to be factored in. Our broader analysis of the top 500 retailers shows that only 12% have mobile-optimized sites, and an even smaller percentage (7%) have a downloadable mobile app. There’s definitely room for growth in the mobile space, and that brings me back to the content from the Mobile Commerce Forum.

What I learned this week is that organizations, as you could predict, are at various stages of maturity with their mobile programs. But no matter where they are in that maturity curve, almost all of them are still in a “test & learn” mode.

Carol Steinberg, senior vice president of e-commerce marketing and business development at ShopNBC, has seen mobile grow to ~10% of sales for her company since launching a mobile commerce site and apps in late 2009. ShopNBC has focused on giving their customers what they need in a mobile shopping experience. According to Ms. Steinberg, that’s “what is on special today, what’s on the air now, [and] what’s on sale.” Her focus now is on how to justify continued expense across her existing properties (mobile site, iPhone app and Android app) while ensuring she’s keeping pace with customer needs and evolving technologies.

Another organization active in the mobile game – but focusing on different tactics – is Steve Madden. Andrew Koven, president of e-commerce and customer experience at the fashion shoe manufacturer and retailer, highlighted his organization’s approach to testing and learning mobile customer engagement via SMS and MMS campaigns. Steve Madden is trying a wide variety of mobile text campaigns with changes in frequency, content and promotions, and although Koven wasn’t able to provide hard statistics on results, he said that they are beginning to see higher levels of engagement and improved sales.

As you can see from these brief examples, a “test & learn” mentality not a bad thing, but the velocity of change in the mobile space requires an organization to have a well-thought-out mobile vision and platform so that they can rapidly ideate, implement, test and measure mobile initiatives. Where organizations have gone wrong is in only grasping for the “shiny objects” in mobile prior to having the vision in place. Understanding your business drivers, the needs of your key audiences and core technologies make a mobile program real and ready for successful execution.

In summary:

  • Companies are starting to hit their stride in mobile and mobile commerce, but there’s still plenty of room for maturity and growth.
  • Having a mobile program vision tied to business and audience needs before executing on individual initiatives is imperative to long-term success in the channel.
  • Rapid, test & learn projects executed on top of that core platform will help you refine what works best with your audiences.

I was able to talk to quite a few companies at the Mobile Commerce Forum, but would love to know what’s working (or not working) for you. Let me know in the comments.

One comment

  1. Hey Tom,

    Very interesting piece. I’ll be sure to cite it! Question, how does the onset of iPad mania impact the study? From the app market place to richer, engaging experiences it seems to me that it could be the rocket ship mobile commerce has been missing.

    – Tewks

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