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Magic Beans exec: 12pc of holiday transactions were completed via mobile

October 20, 2011

NEW YORK – A Magic Beans executive at the Mobile Shopping Fall conference said that 12 percent of all transactions done during the 2010 holiday season were done via its mobile application.

During the “Aisle Shopping: A Magic Beans Case Study” keynote session, the executive discussed how mobile helped the company grow in the retail space. Magic Beans worked with AisleBuyer on its mobile offerings.

“What we wanted was to create a shopping experience for parents,” said Sheri Gurock, cofounder of Magic Beans, Boston. “Technology has been a huge part of our lives so we constantly look at it to help us solve any of the problems we face.

“Our typical shopper is an early adopter,” she said. “Mobile really gives you a completely different perspective.

“We’re completely changing the customer’s approach to buying.”

The company’s app objective was to create a mobile service that would enhance and improve its in-store shopping experience.

According to the executive, some of the company’s strategic benchmarks included education – putting information in the shopper’s hands, promotions and convenience.

“We’ve talked about the content, talked about our time-strapped parents, but we’re also a data-driven company,” Ms. Gurock said.

“We’re used to having a lot of information in our fingertips,” she said.  “Having analytics all of a sudden opens the door to an unprecedented look to how people are shopping in-store.

Magic Beans did face challenges in the mobile space.

The company found that bar code compatibility was an issue.

“It was a usability problem that the bar codes on our products wouldn’t scan,” Ms. Gurock said. “Returns were also challenging.

“People change their minds all the time,” she said. “They can’t just return things on their phone.

“All of a sudden, something that was this big time saver wasn’t – that created an issue as well.”

Although consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to accomplish tasks, adoption is still hard.

“Incentives have been our best approach,” Ms. Gurock said. “First, we really needed people to take the plunge at the end of the transaction.

“We had a wheel game towards the end with prizes that ranged from discounts to the consumer’s entire cart costing just $0.99,” she said.

Additionally, the executive said that the company saw mobile success during the holiday season.

“Forthy-two percent of smartphone owners chose mobile self-checkout instead of waiting in line at Magic Beans during the holiday season,” Ms. Gurock said. “Twelve percent of all transactions during the holiday season were done via the app.

“Mobile is the future,” she said. “Change is hard, even for really smart people.

“While mobile shopping is inevitable, it’s going to take some adjustment, but training is key.”

Companies looking to invest in mobile should identify the best and worst elements of their shopping experience.

“Ask how your app can help enhance the best and improve the best,” Ms. Gurock said. “Never lose sight of what your customer really wants.

“Don’t rush and don’t over complicate,” she said. “Make sure that you’re adding value.”

Final Take
Rimma Kats is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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

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