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GameStop, Travelocity execs: Mobile apps, sites must cater to different types of consumers

PALM DESERT, CA – Executives from GameStop, Travelocity, HauteLook and PayPal at eTail West 2015 discussed how their brands differentiate mobile applications from mobile Web sites, and how both have different end goals to fulfill consumers’ needs that other marketers must keep in mind.

During the “Keynote Mobile Conversions Panel Discussion: Mobile Strategies That Deliver Conversions” session, the executives claimed that apps are more beneficial for long-term consumers seeking additional content, while mobile Web sites should draw in first-time or sporadic shoppers. However, both platforms should be seamless and allow for consumers to switch back and forth easily, as well as create a secure and safe vehicle for driving transactions.

“I think the key insight for us was understanding, at least in travel, that customers use the app in a different way they use Web,” said Blake Clark, director of product management and mobile general manager at Travelocity, Southlake, TX. “The app makes a lot of sense for people that have interacted with Travelocity in some way.

“The mobile Web site is much better tailored to us as a transaction engine. If a customer has a good experience there, it opens the door for us to come back and market the application to them.”

Driving transactions and engagement
While different types of consumers use brands’ mobile apps and sites, both must play off each other to drive transactions and customer engagement via relevant and contextual information or deals. The executive from HauteLook and said that flash sales are optimal for driving consumers to visit the app daily and check for limited time offers.

“On the phone, where real estate is limited, we make it easy to browse and search for products,” said Mark Geller, head of mobile at HauteLook and, Los Angeles, CA. “Our experience over the last four years has shown that people want to use the app to accomplish a job.

“We look for ways to make the app as engaging as possible. We want to give people a good, legitimate reason to open the app every day.”

GameStop echoed these statements, asserting that since the brand started with the mobile app, tackling the mobile Web site is the next goal, as it is paramount for users seeking quick information. It started with the app mainly due to the gaming retailer’s extensive loyalty program, and because it wanted to leverage push notifications for customers looking forward to the release of a new game.

The GameStop executive also advised marketers to involve field and store associates when developing a new app, as it should provide some value to them as well.

Contextual commerce
Travelocity pointed out the need for context in each mobile platform. The brand focuses not only on selling travel, but also on providing customers with itineraries and directions, features that are well-suited to a mobile app that a client can use while vacationing.

Both platforms can foster long-term relationships with consumers as well.

“Mobile is the future for PayPal,” said Robert Clarkson, vice president and general manager of North America large enterprise sales and retail solutions, PayPal North America, San Jose, CA. “We have distinct tools for a mobile site versus a mobile app, because there are different constituents of the consumer.

“There’s a certain trust we need to reflect when someone uses an app. People give up valuable real estate on their phone,” he said.

“On the mobile site, we’re looking at ways to shorten the distance between ‘want’ and ‘have.’”

PayPal stressed the importance of contextual commerce and making sure that merchants move to one-click payment options on mobile devices. Many of its retail partners do not want to give up impulse buys simply because the checkout process is taking too long.

PayPal has seen conversion rates improve by 30 percent when the buying experience moves to a single touch option instead of a shopping cart.

“The beauty of our relationship with any retailer is that it’s entirely symbiotic,” Mr. Clarkson said. “We are often a great sounding board for app adjustments retailers would like to make.”

“We see mobile as extending the limits of a bricks-and-mortar location.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York