ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

How Zappos wins at apps by leveraging mobile moments: Forrester

NEW YORK – The mobile applications for merchants such as Zappos, Home Depot and 7-Eleven stand above the rest by delivering precise information that meets users’ specific needs, according to an analyst at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals East.

While mobile presents an enormous opportunity to rejuvenate customer experiences, it can just as easily be harmful if the design and delivery are not exceptional, as 79 percent of customers will not revisit an application more than two times if initial impressions are not best-in-class, per Forrester’s research. Marketers who are able to hone in on delivering clear value, optimizing efficiency and simplifying presentation will excel at mobile apps.

“In order to grab hold of these opportunities, you have to meet your customers’ expectations for what they want out of the mobile experience, and customers set high expectations,” said Deanna Laufer, analyst at Forrester Research.

“And if customers aren’t satisfied with their experience, they will take action by telling their friends or colleagues, complaining on social networks, or by deleting your app and not using it again.”

Enabling persistence
The Design A Best-In-Class Mobile Experience segment highlighted the decreased real estate on mobile devices. Because users are more limited, preferred apps are the ones that avoid cluttering the screen with too much information and require only the minimum of text or data entry and manipulation.

Mobile usage takes place in shorter bursts than interaction with a PC, and the user is more likely to become interrupted.

Ensuring users can start and finish tasks quickly, and abandon partially completed tasks and resume them later, are characteristics that foster re-visitation, especially for ecommerce retailers.

Zappos is one online merchant that gets this right, as it recognizes the attention of prospective buyers is likely divided between mobile and other tasks. Instead of placing the user in a situation where they must act immediately within interaction to avoid losing a product or page place, the interface remembers where a browser leaves off and returns them to that point when interaction is resumed.

Home Depot and 7-Eleven also leverage specific moments in times as they are aware of the user’s surroundings and can display relevant and contextual location information and deliver appropriate deals when the app is opened depending on factors such as time of day and weather. Value on mobile can be defined as what a user requires when they engage with an app.

They may want to know nearest store hours, or score of a favorite sports team. Whatever the use, marketers should decide on the core purpose of their app and deliver that content as precisely as possible.

Prioritize core functionality
The American Airlines app is developed to give its customers more control over their travel experience in more ways than simply booking a flight. Customers need only enter their log-in information and password once, which allows the app to proactively push upcoming details to the home screen automatically.

JetBlue similarly delivers clear value as several years ago the revamp of its digital products were rebuilt on a platform that is scaled for growth and that integrates the JetBlue True Blue loyalty program. Features such as electronic ticketing and in-app booking have become important to consumers and JetBlue continues to engage with customers throughout the travel journey and not just when they are onboard a plane.

The limitations of handhelds and context of use means that users typically only want to perform a few key functions, so concentrating on supporting main application uses make most sense to drive efficiency, rather than providing all the features that might be seen on the Web.

US Airways is woefully behind the times. While it did not release an app until two years ago, it also continues to ignore the fact that to offer a great user experience, a user-centric design approach is critical. The app’s home page does not display the most important information, and greets users with the impersonal menu bar option.

Successful mobile apps understand the real needs target users have when they are mobile, and address those in the most appropriate way.

Becoming best-in-class
As mobile devices continue to become an integral part of daily life, apps must enhance common tasks and behaviors instead of hindering or interfering with them. A user is more likely to enjoy and revisit an app if it adds meaning to activities and has interesting interaction features that add functionality, and seamlessness and provide solutions.

To attain user-application unification, businesses must first appoint a decision maker who can be responsible for mobile, then partition mobile trends. Creating prototypes early and often will allow a firm to act more like a start-up and facilitates creativity.

Ally Bank realized the nonexistence of an app was being noticed by customers. In order to catch up with the competitive banking world it created a platform in 9 weeks by soliciting customer feedback on paper and sketch prototypes until it felt confident enough to release a formal model.

Forrester recommends testing designs before and after launch and to realize that innovation is never finished.

“When you’re finished changing your finished,” Ms. Laufer said

“Mobile is at the forefront of digital transformation. The pace of mobile innovation with new operating system updates every one to two months and people buying brand new hardware every one to two years requires a mindset towards continuous improvement.”

“Whether you’re just starting out on mobile or are on the fifth version of your app, it’s the mindset towards the incremental improvement that’s going to keep you on train to getting to a better mobile experience,” she said.

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York