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A single app does not make a mobile strategy: Forrester

April 29, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO – A Forrester analyst at Mobile Shopping Summit said that both applications and the mobile Web are key for retailers and brands. However, a single application does not make a mobile strategy.

During the “Consumer Insight: Defining The When, Where And How of Mobile Interaction” session, the executive discussed emerging mobile trends. Additionally, she talked about how more consumers are turning to their mobile device to shop.

“Consumer spending is increasing and with it ad spend and investment in mobile services,” said Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA.

“Consumers are spending more money on mobile and the ROI is more tangible,” she said. “The level of engagement is going up.

“The bigger opportunity is going to be in sales that mobile will influence in the bricks and mortars.”

Purchase intent
According to Ms. Ask, mobile shopping does not necessarily have to involve a consumer purchase.

In addition to buying products via their mobile device, consumers can also research items before they go into a store.

“Mobile shopping is something that’s more broad than just a purchase,” Ms. Ask said. “Certainly, as you’re going forward, you have to balance mobile commerce versus something like driving traffic.

“A minority of consumers use mobile services today – 8 percent were doing research via mobile and four percent were buying via mobile,” she said. “With smartphone users, that number is significantly more.

“One of the things that surprised me is the phenomenal growth of consumers becoming accustomed to mobile shopping – using the phone in-store has grown a lot.”

The mobile Web is still the primary means of consumers using it today, per Ms. Ask.

Although mobile applications are very popular among companies and consumers, Ms. Ask said that just because a company has a mobile app does not mean that it has a complete mobile strategy.

“The iPad has emerged as the shiny new object and there’s certainly an opportunity with it, however a single iPad app isn’t a strategy,” Ms. Ask said.

According to Ms. Ask, mobile shopping should offer three core benefits to drive convenience – immediacy, simplicity and context.

“Phones are very personal and intimate devices,” Ms. Ask said. “You have to make it easy for consumers to input information.

“I believe we’re going to willingly give up information about ourselves because we’re going to want the convenience of what mobile gives us in return,” she said. “You need to focus on customer needs.

“We’re not doing mobile for the sake of doing mobile.”

Mobile is a perfect tool that companies can leverage to engage consumers and get that point of sale.

Consumers always have their devices on them and use them for not only researching a product, but also buying on spontaneously.

“Mobile is as much a product as it is a channel,” Ms. Ask said. “Phones are with us 24/7.

“Shopping is not going to end with a sale,” she said. “It’s going to continue throughout product ownership or service experience.

“It’s important to find out who your target audience is and go from there.”

Final Take
Mobile apps are important to a retailer’s overall strategy

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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