D Murali

Instant transactions drive mobile shopping

D. Murali | Updated on December 18, 2011

The Impulse Economy

A single-click process is the key to impulse mobile engagements.

Mobile-shopping behaviour is fast and impulsive; and, therefore, slowing down the consumer in any way means possibly losing that consumer and any commerce opportunity, writes Gary Schwartz in The Impulse Economy: Understanding mobile shoppers and what makes them buy. Adding that ‘two clicks are one click too many for the mobile shopper,' he notes that the key to consumption is allowing mobile shoppers at the point of transaction to simply ‘blink,' without the retailer overburdening them with commerce questions; and he cautions that check-out procedures requiring too much time filling out forms, too much time searching a purse, will lead to abandoned shopping carts.

SMS donations

A section titled ‘The day Haiti changed m-commerce forever' recounts how, when the earthquake devastation hit Haiti, consumers could reach for the phone and donate $10 just by texting HAITI to 90999. The donation was seamlessly billed to their phone and appeared on the January 2010 bill, and taxable receipts could be printed online by simply entering the donor's mobile phone number, one learns. “Within one day after the earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, $1 million was raised through microdonations via SMS, and within three days, the number was nearly $20 million – all in $10 contributions.”

Influencing consumer behaviour is a valuable takeaway from the above Haiti relief effort, instructs the author. He says that, in our impulse mobile economy, products and services cannot and should not be buried behind storefronts and phone lines; and that communication and commerce should start on simple, instant channels. “It was no surprise when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said, ‘E-mail is dead.' Like a voice call (and its historic antecedent, the letter), e-mails still require undue time and formality. In our impulse economy, anything that distracts, masks, or slows down the message must be eliminated.”

Two for one

Among the scores of examples given in the book is ‘Orange Wednesday,' a tremendously successful programme launched in 2004. Theatres needed a way to sell movie tickets on the slowest day of the week, Wednesday, so they partnered with Orange (a major European carrier) to offer their customers the chance to receive two-for-one Wednesday cinema tickets, reads the narrative. “After texting in, the mobile customer receives a two-for-one unique text ticket code that can be redeemed at the box office on Wednesday. The code is entered into the participating cinema's PoS system. A built-in, two-way security system then validates the Orange user and the coupon number before the free ticket is issued.”

Schwartz observes that the results are a testament to the social nature of the programme; for, the incentive programme has generated approximately 30 million SMS responses since it began, and Wednesday is now the most popular day of the week to go to the movies outside of the weekend! To marketers who aspire to duplicate the Orange formula, the author advises that the offer should be based on an immediate need, there should be no barriers to participation, and there should be a communication element that attracts group participation.

Collective communications

Included in a list of ‘five sure ways to succeed in social m-commerce,' is ‘collective communications,' described as in the Facebook phenomenon. Calling it a poster child for the social movement, and an identity clearinghouse for its members, the author cites the company's executives seeing the enterprise as not simply a space to share content but an instrument that uses this content as building blocks for the member's identity, because the network's value is its ability to connect identity with brands, friends, and family.

In his view, Facebook Like and Send have become social ‘glue gum' terms connecting and driving affinity among brands, retailers, and the largest identity network in the world. Suggesting that the use of Facebook log-in on m-commerce sites can reduce friction and mitigate drop-off, Schwartz reminds that a single-click process is the key to impulse mobile engagements. A simple and effective business idea he recommends is to use Facebook on the commerce confirmation page to allow for viral post-purchase sharing. “Helping the user navigate a growing, fragmented data cloud, Facebook Connect is a permission profile passport that consumers can use to share their profiles and move their ‘taste information' on demand between multiple websites. This allows these websites to deliver relevant, customised content to the user.”

Mobile strategy

Understanding digital is a good first step to developing a mobile strategy, but more important, we must understand what natively works and what does not work in mobile, says Schwartz. He mentions the example of AdMob launching an early programme for 1-800-Flowers.com, which was initially seen as a success and then a failure. Within 24 hours, the client loved mobile, then hated mobile.

Why so? “Our mobile click-to-call campaign flooded their call centre. This was good. But the leads were ‘unqualified crap.' This was bad,” explains Jason Spero, head of business development from AdMob. The insight, as he captures, is that mobile obviously worked but differently to online; so, AdMob is using the learning, by vetting the user and then driving to click-to-call, ensuring that the conversion is high and more targeted.

Acknowledging that mobile ads outperform online ads on recall (the ability of the consumer to remember the advertisement), the author raises questions such as: When a media planner buys mobile impressions on an ad network or from a publisher, is she simply diversifying the brand's reach into a new channel, or is the media planner implicitly asking for something new? Are we as a mobile industry under-delivering? And he wonders if the industry needs to consider other metrics beyond the impression.

Replete with messages that call for deliberation, even if you were to buy the book on an impulse.


“Am looking for an app that can monitor TV news…”

“And filter out what you do not need?”

“Yes, based on the shrill factor!”

Published on December 18, 2011

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