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Promotions of the moment a key feature for mcommerce sites: panelist

BALTIMORE – Retailers should prominently feature major promotions of the moment on their mobile commerce site’s homepage, per a QVC executive at the eTail 2010 Social Media & Mobile Commerce Summit.

As Internet usage on phones increases at a rapid pace, mobile Web developers are starting to pin down best practices for delivering a strong customer experience. Focusing on one major sales promotion on an mcommerce homepage will help target specific consumer segments.

“Products are coming up and changing constantly, so we find it important to feature the deal of the day, or whatever is going on,” said Primus Poppiti, IT manager of and new media at QVC, West Chester, PA. “We need that area on the home page to be able to market.

“We’re finding that the mobile space is not just going to follow our big broadcast,” he said. “We have a niche audience and we want to target that audience with different types of products.

“Now we’re looking at using the home page as a way of targeting particular audiences.”

The “Best practices for mobile site design and navigation” panel was moderated by Marci Troutman, founder/CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta.

Panelists at eTail 2010

The mobile Web experience
Mobile commerce sites should maintain certain features of retailers’ PC Web sites, but also optimize for each mobile device.

“From our experience, the key aspects to leverage from PC Web sites are the key functionalities,” said Jason Taylor, vice president of global product strategy at Usablenet, New York.

According to Mr. Taylor, those functionalities most likely include things like user name, password, wish lists.

As users become more accustomed to a mobile Web interface, the most prominent design features will start spilling over into traditional Internet design.

“Mobile Web and mobile Web sites will influence the design of traditional Web sites,” said Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief of Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. “You’re going to see a change in two or three years – a more linear, scroll-down experience on Web to match the mobile experience.

“You probably don’t want four or five columns,” he said.

Homepage necessities
Retailers should consider what features their customers find most important to the shopping experience and highlight those on their mobile homepage.

Mr. Taylor said that Usablenet emphasizes four features on mobile commerce homepages: quick log-in at top-right corner of screen, search functionality (the primary way users are navigating mobile sites), a store locator (for bricks-and-mortar retailers) and a prominent display of the biggest promotion of the moment.

Companies should have a keen eye for what customers – rather than retailers – find most vital to the mobile Web shopping experience.

Researching which features mobile users are most interested in is a must.

“From an ecommerce, multichannel perspective, we spend a lot of time optimizing and working on a regular Web site,” said Mark Lowe, ecommerce marketing and digital manager at Ace Hardware, Oak Brook, IL. “When you do a mobile Web site, and have to pick and choose, it’s hard.

“Trust your data from what your customers are doing on your site,” he said. “A lot of the time, what you think is most important as a brand may not be for customers.

“Make sure you’re fulfilling the need they’re coming to the site for.”

Other important features to include are privacy policies, a back button on each page and a link to the full PC Web site.

Mobile payments
A number of options were discussed, including credit card payments, Pay Pal and third party payment platforms powered by major ecommerce stores such as Amazon or iTunes.

Letting users log-in to a universal account that transfers their payment information across platforms so they can pay without having to enter in new information to their mobile phones was preferable.

Gimmicks versus functionality
The panel discussed the profusion of mobile Web sites and applications with an entertainment slant rather than a purely functional one, and warned that such strategies should be approached carefully.

“My only caveat is it depends on who your market is and what your goals are,” said Sharla Wagy, director of online programming development at ShopNBC, Eden Prairie, MN. “For some audiences, you might like social media, might want to put games or something to get them to spend time on the mobile site.

“But if you’ve got a devoted customer that just wants to get to products, that’s different,” she said. “It depends who the audience is.”

Overall, making sure the mobile experience maintains a brand’s identity is crucial.

“When transferring a brand to mobile, recognize the brand’s values,” Mobile Commerce Daily’s Mickey Alam Khan said. “Make sure it has the same romance and elicits the same emotion on the mobile experience.

“When translating a brand to an app or a mobile Web site, keep the look and feel consistent with the values of the store or the online property,” he said. “Leave some hint for the viewer to say, ‘Alright, this is the same family, the same brand, be it whatever channel.’”

Final Take
Primus Poppiti, IT manager of and new media at QVC, West Chester, PA