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41pc of merchants have seen positive ROI from mobile commerce: study

November 17, 2010

Jill Dvorak is senior consultant of mobile commerce at FitForCommerce

Jill Dvorak is senior consultant of mobile commerce at FitForCommerce

The good news is that 41 percent of retailers and merchants have seen a positive return on investment from mobile commerce. The bad news is that 32 percent have not measured their ROI or do not know how to measure it, according to a recent FitForCommerce survey.

Depending on where retailers are in developing their mobile strategy, the next steps are varied—testing, rethinking, building, enhancing and launching more. Of course, the next steps depend upon the current state of a retailer’s mobile commerce offerings and are driven by marketing strategies, improving user experiences and preparing for new devices.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Jill Dvorak, Washington-based senior consultant at FitForCommerce, about best practice for retailers and merchants in the mobile space. Here is what she had to say:

When retailers/merchants are deciding between a mobile site or application, what factors must they take into account?
The retailer or branding merchant needs to understand what is their end game? Is it customer interaction? Are they looking to push out marketing deals or further extend their brand? Do they want to create a fun, interactive game, or did the CEO say to go mobile so now they’re going mobile?

Retailers have to ask themselves: What is the reason we’re going mobile? Is that where our customers are? Chances are they are out there looking on their handsets, probably on a competitor’s mobile site.

Merchants have to figure out what they want that mobile engagement to be. Applications tend to have a shorter shelf life and heavier page and site load time, and they are quite different in design from a mobile site.

An application is typically a one-directional path with gaming or fun interactions allowed, whereas a site is choose your own adventure—retailers choose their own end game.

On the mobile Web consumers can shop to their heart’s content, revise their order and if they want to check out they can. An application has slightly more limited transactional capability.

Whether building a mobile site or app, design it so customers can experience that retailer’s end game.

How can retailers/merchants measure the ROI of their mobile initiatives?
That’s the question we get asked more than any other by our clients, and we recommend treating it like any other medium that the marketing or communications department would invest in.

There are great analytics packages out there to give insight into what is happening on the mobile site or app.

The PC Web experience trained us to think that time spent on a site is a positive measurement, but I would caution that time spent on a site from a mobile perspective may not always be a positive factor—it may be due to confusion or slow load times.

That’s where more qualitative measurements come in—give them a task and watch whether they complete it, or don’t and see how they browse.

For ROI from a mobile perspective, as with any other marketing medium, there is always going to be an immeasurable point, where consumers go to site, and they don’t purchase anything, but later they sign up for an email list.

Revenue attribution is no more complete in mobile than in the PC Web, so fitting mobile into the attribution model you’re currently using is the best way.

Over time retailers should start looking at traffic, where visitors are coming from and at downstream traffic, where they’re going from there, so they can get a more holistic idea of what is happening in the mobile space.

How does a retailer/merchant gauge what the next step should be when formulating their mobile game plan?
Quantitative analysis helps with understanding the numbers and the traffic percentages.

Do they want to expand to their full product mix? Do they field requests in the customer service channel via phone, chat and online?

Reading iTunes and Android reviews for an app or site helps retailers figure out what people want or can’t find.

Shoppers on a mobile site are much more in a hunter mindset—they’re a bit more directed, and they want to find a price quickly. They want to understand whether it’s free shipping, and they want to check out quickly.

Security is a huge concern and that should be addressed out of the box, as well as ensuring a consistent site experience and integration with their regular Web account.

There should not be separate check-out in mobile, because that’s a frustrating customer experience.

What are some best practices for retailers/merchants to reduce the barriers to mobile purchasing?
There should be security assurances at the footer of every page—trust brand icons are very important.

Also, understanding that your customer may be a little confused about how they’re checking out should encourage retailers to make it similar to the online check-out experience.

Guaranteeing price consistency has been a really effective tool. Best Buy and Steve Madden do this—“Please note that the prices on this site are the same as on our PC Web site. Prices and offers subject to change.”

Retailers are saying, “We know you are going to be comparing prices, and this is the best deal you’re going to get from us,” which increases consumers’ peace of mind. They don’t need to do any other research, so they know they’re getting the best deal.

How should retailers/merchants integrate and cross-promote mobile across their various consumer touchpoints/channels?
A common question is “How do we tell people about our mobile initiatives?” Whether it is SMS or live chat, banners or an evergreen presence on retailers’ PC Web site, promotion is very important.

People will go to your Web site on their mobile phone, so if you don’t have that automatic redirect yet or a click-here-to-be-redirected link, you need to take care of that. Also, look at the pages people are hitting online and on their phones.

In store, have a simple sign-up sheet when people are waiting in line to check out, an in-store banner or easel with a QR code and the call-to-action “Opt in here for our mobile marketing program, visit our mobile site and I’m going to give you a promotion.”

Build on all of your other marketing efforts, including mobile search campaigns—optimize your mobile site for organic links in the mobile search engine space. Mobile affiliate networks are also a growing trend.

Take advantage of all of the inventory out there, both digital and physical.

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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