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1800Flowers exec: Mobile provides rich fodder for breaking down silos

PALM DESERT, CA – A 1800Flowers executive at eTail West 2016 claimed that the speed and half-life of change within mobile is fundamentally different from other digital channels, meaning that brand leaders should leverage mobile internally and externally to break down silos and drive sales among new customers.

During the keynote mobile innovation panel, “Optimizing The Overall Customer Experience For The Mobile Customer Through Innovation,” executives from 1800Flowers, Fanatics, Cabela’s, QVC and UserTesting stressed the importance of having a consistent user experience across all devices. Mobile truly has the ability to break down silos both internally and externally, making it an invaluable tool for brand leadership as well as customers.

“Mobile provides a very rich fodder for breaking down silos,” said Amit Shah, senior vice president of online marketing, mobile and social at 1800Flowers. “The speed and half-life of change within mobile is fundamentally different from other channels we have seen.

“I think it’s a very important tool that leaders should use internally as well to break down some of the silos.”

Catering to customers
It is imperative for brands to keep in mind that there are no mobile customers, only customers. Mobile cannot be considered separate from other digital channels.

Mr. Shah explained that he sees two fundamental vectors for expanding a brand’s product portfolio. Firstly, as mobile is an internal catalyst for disruption, businesses must keep embracing new technology coming out because any of those platforms could provide excellent customer retention.

Secondly, new technology often possesses surprising elements. It may not immediately help conversion potential, but it could help piece together important data. New payment services are one example of this.

QVC in particular has been ramping up to cater to mobile users. More than 50 percent of its customers are now shopping via mobile. However, the company ensures it does not group all mobile platforms – such as mobile Web, applications and tablet devices – into one category, because there are different use cases for each channel.

Instead, marketers should identify trends on each device, a strategy that online sports retailer Fanatics has been employing.

“The app and the mobile Web serve very different purposes for us, and some of that relates to our vertical,” said David Katz, senior vice president of product management and design at Fanatics.

Fanatics sees massive spikes in mobile traffic during major sporting events. After the Denver Broncos emerged victorious in Super Bowl 50, 81 percent of the brand’s traffic stemmed from mobile. New customers also found the company via Google search.

Fanatics views its mobile app as more of an engagement experience for loyal customers. The executive from Cabela’s seconded this sentiment.

“The mobile app is all about the repeat customer – that brand engagement – and not necessarily commerce,” said Andrea Grant, director of digital marketing at Cabela’s. “It’s a different platform to move throughout the organization when you don’t have that immediate value associated with an app.”

Testing new strategies
Testing new platforms and technologies should be at the forefront of brands’ business objectives, but they should not invest in one particular component until it proves itself able to solve a real-life problem.

This year, Fanatics is aiming to link mobile and desktop sessions to deliver more integrated experiences, a strategy that will likely ramp up engagement and sales. With that on its plate, the retailer is not looking to develop a smartwatch app in the foreseeable future.

However, QVC has gleaned plenty of interesting information from rolling out its Apple Watch app. Since many of its customers engage in impulse buys, having purchasing ability on a smartwatch felt like a right fit for the brand.

It also brings about additional opportunities for purchasing experiences to become more seamless and connected, especially with the advent of Apple TV. Brands must be ready to deliver these experiences, as all customers – even those not belonging to the millennial demographic – will expect them from marketers.

“That expectation is going to continue to build for customers, and we want to be ready for that,” said Amber Otero, vice president of interactive and user experience at QVC.