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Sears, Days Inn offer do’s and don’ts of mobile commerce

August 25, 2009

daysinnNEW YORK – Sears would have gone with a different product mix when it first launched it mobile site. And Days Inn would not have launched its mobile campaign before the mobile site was up. 

Thus confessed senior executives from Sears Holding and Wyndham’s Days Inn hotel brand at last week’s Mobile Commerce Spotlight conference organized by Mobile Marketer in conjunction with the Direct Marketing Association.

In a session moderated by Mobile Marketer’s Mickey Alam Khan, panelists offered the audience of marketers and retailers a list of do’s and don’ts for mobile commerce. The panel comprised Thomas Emmons, team leader for mobile/innovation at Sears Holding Corp.; Tina Perry, regional director at Wyndham Hotel Group and Days Inn Worldwide; Eric Holmen, president of SmartReply; Alex Muller, president of Slifter; and Adam Kerr, vice president for North America at Bango. Excerpts from the panel discussion:

What would you have done differently the first time around?
Mr. Emmons: I would say we would have gone out with a different product mix.

We would have pushed harder for appliances. Home and garden was something we thought would be important around Christmas time, but we should have looked more into seasonality.

We also would have spent more time researching exactly what people were doing on the online site before we built the mobile site.

Mr. Holmen: We would have made better decisions with printing and signage in the stores.

Cashiers aren’t going be there training customers, so signage in the store makes a huge difference. We went from tiny flyers to floor-to-ceiling banners with clearly printed instructions. That was our biggest change to bringing about incremental improvement.

Ms. Perry: We launched our mobile campaign before our mobile site was up. If we had another shot, we wouldn’t do that again.

With the holiday season around the corner, what is your wish list for mobile commerce?
Mr. Emmons:
I’d wish for many, many more good handsets to be out there.

The Android is pulling price points down and cheaper iPhones are starting up. In all our time on mobile, I don’t think we’ve sold on a Motorola Razr.

The more smartphones that come out, the easier it is. As easy as free traffic.

Mr. Holmen: I’d love to see every brand out there trying, getting through it, and getting it right.

Mr. Muller: I’d wish for less fragmentation on point-of-sale systems. Everyone has a platform and a system, so it’s going to be hard to leverage across the board.

Ms. Perry: I wish we could build our database faster and that the technology in the hotel industry was more compatible with mobile.

Mr. Kerr: I’d like to see better targeting metrics for brands. More people will start to take it seriously because there are so few stores out there.

I want more people trying to get on mobile.

What are the must-haves of a mobile commerce site?
Mr. Emmons: “Search” and “Store locator.”

We’d tried putting promotions up on the site and haven’t had a lot of good luck with that. With all the products we sell, it’s tough to guess on exactly what the consumer is looking for.

Ms. Perry: In my industry, the very first option is “Choose location” and “Make a reservation.” You have to lead with the immediate call-to-action.

The second option is “Change or cancel a reservation,” which is the first thing a consumer needs to do when their plans change.

In any industry, I’d say the immediate call-to-action has to be there so consumers can get where they need to go as soon as possible.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give those who are considering entering the world of mobile commerce?
Mr. Emmons: Take a chance on what you know will work.

Mr. Holmen: Invest in mobile on what makes the most profit.

Find out what the demographics are and who is most likely to engage in that way. It’s the same economics of the marketing world. You can build something great but unless you can drive people to it, it does no good.

Another thing I’d say is to make the transaction piece very easy for the buyer. The biggest challenge with mobile is getting someone to change behavior. Everyone is used to pulling a credit card out of a wallet. Your site has to be easy enough to change that.

Ms. Perry: For the customer base, my first piece of advice is to not get discouraged.

From the providers’ standpoint, it’s very key to be adaptable with your customer. We had to find a way to get around obstacles and Ping Mobile found a way to do that with us.

Mr. Kerr: Mobile brings out analytics. So I suggest that everyone measures what they’re doing.

You need to ensure that you are recognizing all of the people coming through and seeing your campaigns so that you can target them.

And don’t just focus on the iPhone, but focus on the basic hand

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Jordan Crook is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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