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Lessons from the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2013

May 10, 2013

Valerie Williamson is vice president of business development at OtherLevels

By Valerie Williamson

Why does engagement matter? Because it drives customer satisfaction, utility and value.

And, according to Walgreens senior director of mobile commerce Tim McCauley, the best way to foster engagement with customers is through a multichannel marketing approach with mobile at its core.

This was a sentiment echoed by, well, nearly everyone who spoke last week at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2013, organized by Mobile Commerce Daily.

Dose of mobile
Mr. McCauley’s presentation showed how the United States’ largest drugstore chain has leveraged a host of online and mobile properties – five ecommerce sites and 10 applications and mobile Web sites – that have earned many industry awards and rank high in customer satisfaction.

How does Walgreens engage its customers so well?

Here is an example: one if its app’s most popular features is the ability to use a mobile device to scan the bar code on a medication bottle, initiating an automatic refill order.

Through this utility-first approach, customers are initially engaged while they are outside the store, but then the engagement comes full circle when they come in to the store to pick up their medications. It is likely the customer will make some impulse purchases during that in-store time.

Clearly, the investment is paying off, as customers engaged on all channels are Walgreens’ best, spending six times more than customers who just interact with the company in-store alone.

The pharmacy chain is filling one prescription from a mobile device every single second.

Mobile by design
Here is a quick look at a few other great presentations I got to watch during the Mcommerce Summit:

For upscale furniture and décor retailer Design Within Reach, according to vice president of marketing and ecommerce Mark Simmons, engagement and ROI begins with knowing who the company’s customers are.

In DWR’s case, that would be a higher-income, tech-savvy audience with a passion for beautiful design.

The company, Mr. Simmons, “follows its customers’ path.” Of course, this increasingly means the smartphone and the tablet – and often both.

DWR’s iOS apps are designed with clean lines and bold colors that draw attention and please the eye.

Customers using the iPad app – a “curated product tool” – can pull up photos of fully-furnished and decorated showcase rooms.

For more information about a product in the image and its designer, all they have to do is tap it with a finger.

Knowing what its customers like and using that to keep them engaged has pushed up DWR’s Yelp scores and kept tablet traffic and sales growing steadily.

Engaging customers through mobile could also be more economical for a company.

Bank on it
David Godsman, senior vice president of online and mobile solutions for Bank of America, said during his presentation that, not only are mobile logins to the BofA site set to outnumber desktop-based online logins by next year, fully-digital customers cost 42 percent less to service than non-digital customers.

Mobile, according to Mr. Godsman, “is now in BofA’s DNA.”

The company has introduced “Tetherless Banking,” a money-management solution that works seamlessly across platforms including desktop, smartphone and tablet.

Last year, it launched nationwide for mobile devices its Bank AmeriDeals rewards program, which sends targeted offers based on previous transactions for maximum relevance.

The bank, which also uses social media to connect with customers, has been seeing growth of its social channel – which is increasingly being accessed through mobile – of over 200 percent month over month.

Mobile, Mr. Godsman said, has helped BofA boost customer retention by 90 percent.

So, how do these successful companies know what kind of mobile messaging to serve up for top relevance and engagement? They measure it.

These marketers analyze the data created by customer interaction, which tells them which mobile messages work and which do not by painting a detailed picture of individual customers’ preferences.

And it is clear that where these business bellwethers go, the rest are sure to follow.

According to Forrester Research, mobile will play an increasingly large role in how consumers buy goods and services over the next few years, with tablets outpacing smartphones for shopping from home and smartphones becoming the preferred channel for location-based contextual campaigns.

AS MOBILE marketing budgets and message volumes grow, the need to measure the impact of those messages – and to quickly adjust messaging that is not yielding results – has never been greater.

Measurement techniques such as action analytics, A/B split testing and retargeting can give marketers the data they need to know what their customers want, plus the ability to respond in real time and tweak messages for maximum engagement and ROI.

The mobile analytics industry is ready to help these companies stand out from the pack, driving conversions now and for years to come.

Valerie Williamson is vice president of business development at OtherLevels, San Francisco. Reach her at

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