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Walgreens exec: Integrate mobile with all ecommerce offerings

October 26, 2010

Walgreens mobile app

Walgreens mobile app

NEW YORK – A Walgreens executive at the Mobile Shopping Summit said that although the company is very cautious on how payment information is stored via its application and mobile site, mobile payments will be another piece of the puzzle as the space continues to mature.

During the “Overcoming The Hurdles In Developing Your Mobile Commerce Site” session, panelists discussed the dos and don’ts for brands looking to develop a mobile commerce site. The panel was moderated by Marci Troutman, founder/CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta.

“Our customers are out and about and they have their mobile phones with them,” said Tim McCauley, director of mobile commerce at Walgreens, Chicago. “The payments side happens at the store.

“There also has to be a simple point of contact,” he said. “We think it’s extremely important to have one view, one app, one short code and one mobile Web site.”

Mobile features
Although companies cannot bring all of the features in their Web site to mobile, Mr. McCauley said that businesses should look at the key features that need to be in included and go from there.

“If you’re going to have a mobile site, make sure you’re going to have enough features,” Mr. McCauley said. “Your customers will be upset if those key features are not going to be there.

“It’s important that you have the main features that your customers are going to use to transact with you,” he said. “There are some things that we wouldn’t put on our mobile site.”

When incorporating mobile into a company’s initiative, many find it difficult to choose to do the mobile site or application in-house or get a third party.

It is different for every company, but businesses need to realize that this is an ongoing process – it is the same way of looking at it as a company’s ecommerce site, per Mr. McCauley.

“You can’t think of this as I’m going to build and app and stop,” Mr. McCauley. “We’re integrating mobile with everything that we’re doing with our ecommerce offerings.

“The mobile portions are just one small part of what makes it all work,” he said.

Walgreens is also incorporating social interaction into its mobile application and site.

The company is currently testing with Foursquare and believes that location-based technology is critical, per Mr. McCauley.

“We think there’s potential there and with Facebook – it’s a great way to get the message out,” Mr. McCauley said.

Pizza for your thoughts
When Pizza Hut tapped into the mobile channel, it decided that it is important to understand what a customer’s expectations are.

“There’s a debate consistently,” said Baron Concors, chief information and digital officer at Pizza Hut, Dallas. “What is the future of mobile payments going to be?

“Our strategy is to wait and see how that evolves,” he said. “You have to understand what the expectations are, if you try to go cheap on this and it’s lacking in functionality, you’re customers will see that – and it will do more harm than good.

“The mobile site has more reach, but if I have an iPhone or Android and your competition has an app, how effective is your mobile site going to be?”

Mobile direction
According to Paul Maass, director of business development at Usablenet, New York, a company’s mobile strategy can go on forever, but it is key to know when to execute it.

Companies should be in the beta period for a month or two.

“You can look at strategy and you can look at plans and numbers until you’re blue in the face,” Mr. Maass said. “Just try it – when you do it, you will learn from it.”


Final Take

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

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