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Four guidelines to develop a mobile commerce strategy

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is a variation of the following: “We know we need to get going on mobile commerce, but where should we start?” 

The reason that this question is top of mind for online merchants is simple. According to Coda Research Consultancy, mobile commerce revenues are expected to double in 2010 to $2.4 billion. Many merchants are reporting that mobile traffic is now a significant portion of their page views.

While there is no one answer, there is a set of four guidelines I like to use to help clients work through their mobile commerce strategy.

Think mobile, not miniature: People do not use their mobile devices in the same way they use their computers. They are more likely to be looking for a specific piece of information or product than simply browsing. 

Mobile sessions are typically shorter than computer-based sessions and involve less page views. These are important design considerations.

The best mobile experiences are task focused.

Customers want to know how to find your store, what the hours are, what is on sale – and they want to find it quickly.
One important thing that I always advise mobile merchants to do, however, is allow customers to access the regular version of their site using their mobile device, if the mobile-specific version does not meet their needs. Many sellers do not do this and it can frustrate customers.

Feed the funnel: Mobile experiences are more likely to succeed if they drive customers through a buying process that concludes in a traditional channel.

Of course, this means that tracking these cross-channel interactions is critical, so you can get the credit you deserve.

Remember that for multichannel sellers, each dollar of online revenue typically drives $6.60 in chain-wide sales.

Mobile is about far more than another way for a customer to book a transaction.

Timing is everything: There are a number of great stories about digital merchants using mobile experiences to build deeper relationships with their customers.

Promotions which involve frequent customer contact such as “deals of the day” lend themselves very well to a quick mobile experience.

Use the best tool for the job: What is the best thing about a Swiss Army knife? It has different tools for different jobs. Your mobile strategy needs to be the same. 

Some customer tasks, such as locating a store or checking a price, lend themselves well to mobile sites. Other tasks are better suited to the richer experiences that can be delivered in an application. 

With these guidelines in mind, a great way to start building your strategy is to listen to what your customers are already telling you. If you have not already, examine your analytics to determine what parts of your site mobile device users are using most heavily today. 

Also remember that mobile commerce is still developing. 

The capabilities of the devices are still evolving. The mobile experiences you build today will not have the same lifespan as your traditional commerce site. For that reason it is important to move quickly. 

It is far better to get something good to market in the short term, knowing that you will continue to evolve your strategy, than to take a long time developing the perfect solution.

Bottom line, the goal is to deliver mobile tools that will have the most effect on your business. Putting these guidelines into practice, in combination with some thoughtful analysis of your customer base and their needs, will serve you well as you embark upon turning mobile into a successful channel for your organization.

Justin Finnegan is director of cross-channel selling solutions at Acquity Group, Chicago. Reach him at [email protected].