2014 Holiday Mobile Commerce Guide

The Holidays are once again upon us in full force, meaning that the busiest shopping time of the year for ecommerce has hit! Merchants know the importance of a strong showing during this busy season.

Mobile commerce is a large component of the 2014 Holiday shopping season. According to a report from Internet Retailer, mobile shopping will account for over 33% of ecommerce sales.

Ecommerce merchants should be ready for the influx of mobile shoppers, or else they could jeopardize up to one-third of their Holiday sales. Fortunately, Apptive is here to help. Whether you are brand new to mobile commerce or a mobile aficionado, this guide will set you up for success this Holiday season!

Streamline Your Mobile Experience

The Holidays are fun and festive, but Holiday shopping can be less appealing than entering a cage with a rabid wolverine. Mobile shopping has been gaining popularity so rapidly because it is much easier to just pick up and order on your phone than it is to brave the wilds of the local mall. This advantage disappears immediately if your mobile experience sucks.

So how do you make your mobile presence not suck? There is actually a lot you can do, but at a base line there are two things that will at least establish you as a solid contender on mobile.

First thing’s first: make sure you have a mobile site. At a bare minimum, people need to see an established mobile presence when they navigate to your site through their device’s browser. Fortunately, modern ecommerce platforms realize the importance of the mobile web, and so most of them allow you to enable a mobile site by simply checking a box. Once you do, make sure that you actually visit the site on a mobile device (or ideally, several different ones). Make sure that the site is clear, illustrates your products well, and doesn’t in any way inhibit your customers’ path to purchase. If there are issues, contact your ecommerce platform ASAP and get it sorted out. Alternatively, if you find their mobile experience lacking, there are numerous third-party mobile site providers you can look into.

Second up: get a mobile app for your online store. The Apptive platform makes it quick and easy to get an app. Some people argue that mobile apps are extraneous when you have a mobile site, but that attitude is couched in a time where apps cost tens of thousands of dollars, thus making it hard to generate a good ROI. Now there is no reason to avoid getting an app. Customers who download your app give you the ability to reach them at any time with push notifications, promote deals, and take advantage in the latest native functionality of mobile devices. In short, a mobile app is the best way to engage with your customers, offering numerous options and functionality that the mobile web simply can’t provide.

Drum Up the Hype

Anticipation is a powerful thing, particularly around the Holiday season. Though it can occasionally seem like people are becoming jaded, in general they appreciate getting into the spirit. That means that if you want people to do their Holiday shopping through your store, you are going to have to build some excitement!

Mobile apps in particular offer a lot of opportunities to help generate interest in your products and events. Leading up to important Holiday events, you can send push notifications reminding your customers about the great deals they can expect. Mobile shoppers respond very well to images, so create some that showcase your products in festive ways.

A tangential but very valuable benefit to building this kind of anticipation through in-app activity is that it shows you have an interest in fostering an active mobile community. As mentioned above, the people who download your app are often your most loyal customers. When you release interesting content through your app they will feel like they are part of an exclusive club (and really, they are!) and will reward you by being responsive and making purchases through your app.

One small word of warning here though. When you deliver content directly to your customers through your app you will need to make sure that it is high quality, engaging and valuable for them. Don’t just send out repetitive messages or spammy content. At best your customers will turn off your push notifications. At worst they will uninstall your app and may avoid shopping with you in the future.

Capitalize on the Major Shopping Days

For better or worse, retailers and shoppers alike mark Black Friday as the beginning of the seasonal buying rush. It is also widely derided as a madhouse, and consumer frustration has increased as retailers push “Black Friday” back further and further in Thanksgiving. This year that practice has reached ridiculous levels, with many prominent leaders starting their deals at 6PM on Thursday. There has been tremendous pushback on this practice, with many customers going so far as to boycott those retailers that threaten to cut short a traditionally family oriented Holiday.

Fortunately, mobile commerce provides a way for retailers to take advantage of the buying fervor without angering their fans. Mobile-based Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals allow consumers to browse and buy from the comfort of their own home. Customers actually enjoy viewing deals on their mobile devices because it relieves the pressure of braving the crowds.

Again, the key here is offering tremendous value for customers buying on mobile. Part of the reason that people dive into the surge of Black Friday is fear of missing out on some spectacular offer. If your deals are not at least as good as those of physical retailers, you can forget it. The good news is that customers who have downloaded your app are much more likely to actually receive your deals, because push notifications allow you to send them right to their home screen. Those deals will cut through the clutter of promotions sent through email and social channels.

Of course, there are other, more advanced strategies that businesses can take advantage of as well. For instance, if you notice that a big-box retailer has a “door buster” item that you also sell, you can take advantage of the forced scarcity there. Often the chains will have fewer than a dozen of these hot items in stock, and people will be clamoring to get their hands on it. If you send a deal to customers during or shortly after the Black Friday heyday that features the same item, your fans will be very likely to buy it from you.

Final Thoughts and Holiday Cheers

The 2014 Holiday season will see the greatest increase in mobile sales yet. It is also important to remember that mobile commerce as a whole is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, so many of these Holiday strategies can be successfully incorporated into your campaigns year round!

The 2014 Thanksgiving Mobile Commerce Roundup

Prior to Thanksgiving 2014, estimates suggested that mobile commerce would make up a significant percentage of online sales this Holiday season.

Those estimates were right on point.

This year, mobile commerce made up a crushing 32.3% of U.S. online sales. In addition, mobile devices accounted for 52.1% of online shopping traffic, suggesting that mobile devices were a component of numerous sales even if they were not ultimately made on that device.

To break it down even further: smartphones made up 36.4% of mobile traffic, where tablets made up 15.4%. That said, tablets actually accounted for 17.9% of online sales, where smartphones accounted for 14.4%.

We are also able to gain a bit of insight into user behavior on the path-to-purchase. Many used mobile devices to search for gifts and other holiday purchases. Of those searches, a full half resulted in a purchase.

Mobile apps in particular are gaining in popularity. Forbes recently noted that online retailers prefer mobile apps because they cut through the clutter of email and social channels, allowing merchants to reach customers directly. They also allow merchants to reach all of their audience at once, an increasingly large benefit as Facebook continues to tweak its algorithm to limit non-paid content brands can use to reach their fans.

It is obvious that businesses are taking notice of mobile app functionality in droves. A recent IBM study indicates that 94% of CMOs plan to incorporate native apps into their mobile marketing strategy within the next 3-5 years.

The mobile trends continued over the busy post-Thanksgiving weekend sales days. Despite an overall lackluster Black Friday, online sales continued to grow. Overall, mobile devices were used in nearly 30% of all online sales.

Mobile also demonstrated a strong presence during Cyber Monday, where it accounted for almost 40% of all online traffic, and 23% of online sales. Again, tablets edged out smartphones for volume of purchases, accounting for 12.5% of sales compared to smartphones 10.5%.

All of this data points to one thing: mobile commerce is very quickly becoming the dominant force in ecommerce. Merchants should ensure that they have a strong mobile presence this Holiday season and beyond!

What Makes a Great Mobile Coupon?

Mobile couponing is blowing up, but many ecommerce businesses still haven’t captured the tremendous value that mobile coupons can provide. With the right strategy, a mobile coupon can give your sales a much needed boost and increase customer loyalty. Consider these tips to become the master of mobile deals!

Specificity Matters

A mobile coupon is not just a mobile coupon. It is also a fantastic opportunity to highlight a specific product or group of products. While storewide sales have their place, consider featuring specific items in your coupon so you have the opportunity to add descriptive language and make them appealing. You’ll find that customers often respond better to this type of curated approach.

Choose the Right Image

An image is an incredibly important part of your coupon. While it always pays to have sexy product images, coupons benefit greatly from soem extra attention. If you are tying your coupon to a specific event, consider adding a themed image of your product, or an image that features your product in use. Images do a great job of telling a story, and creative images will let your customers imagine what it would be like to own your item.

Concise, Descriptive Copy

The text that accompanies your image is absolutely crucial, particularly considering that your customers will actually see it right on their home screen when you send your coupon through push notifications. You’ll need to strike a good balance here, because too little information focusing on hard facts will make you sound robotic, while too much information will sound flowery and will get cut off. One sentence of informative, descriptive text will make a huge difference where your coupon is concerned.

Correct Timing

Different audiences respond to coupons best at different times, so it pays to experiment and find the sweet spot for your customers. When starting out, try to put yourself in the mindset of your customer. Does your target market work 9-5 hours? Do they have an academic schedule? When do they normally buy from you website? This information will help you get a good idea of the peak time to send mobile coupons. You can hone from there.

Value For Them, Value For You

Mobile coupons can provide a great way to move products, but you’ll need to confirm two things overall: is the coupon valuable enough to be interesting to your customers? Does the coupon also serve to meet your goals? It’s pretty rare that businesses create a coupon simply to liquidate inventory. You want to make sure that the coupon creates value for you. Don’t send a coupon unless you have a clear goal in mind, and then measure against that goal. Whether you want to push a specific product at an intro rate or want to garner return customer loyalty, measure. It is the only way you’ll determine the true value of your mobile coupon.

These items all demonstrate the qualities of a great mobile coupon, but specifics can be useful as well. What have you found to be effective in your mobile coupon strategy? What mobile coupons have you personally responded to?

Three Mobile Hotspots That Could Spawn The Next $100 Billion Company

SONY DSC

Industry analysts believe that the next $100 billion dollar business will be mobile. Already, many of the largest businesses in the technology world have a mobile component and more are being added every day. But amidst this incredible diversity of fields that can benefit from a mobile offering, where will the true titan of mobile emerge? Here are three hotspots that we believe could easily produce the next major business in the mobile field.

Messaging

With Facebook spending $19 billion on Whatsapp, there is no question that mobile messaging has taken off. The big question for mobile messaging, then, is monetization. Whatsapp pledges to never show ads to its users, and charges $0.99/year. Likewise, Facebook has assured Whatsapp that they will not have to compromise their principles.

This presents an interesting problem for mobile messaging companies with ethics similar to Whatsapp. The first to solve it in a financially viable way will likely be the winner, and could definitely be the first massive mobile company.

Commerce

Shopping is transitioning towards m-commerce with new apps that beautifully showcase products. While massive e-commerce sites like Amazon may have a reasonable foothold on the mobile commerce space, there is still a lot of uncertainty in their mobile offerings.

One of the problems with the modern shopping experience is the massive catalogs of products available to consumers. Smaller e-commerce sites can target individuals to a greater degree and offer a more commoditized product than the big guys. Mobile commerce companies have access to more options than their desktop counterparts, such as better location data and the ability to use push notifications.

Purchasing

Mobile commerce isn’t just about the nice shopping apps that are prominent in the App Store, it is also about making payment more seamless, and the startup that can really get the payment system down will be on top.

With iOS 8, Apple is allowing third party developers to begin using the fingerprint sensor found on the iPhone 5S and newer devices. Some mobile commerce startups will be able to use this functionality to make purchases even simpler, all you need is one finger. This functionality could even be used to have multiple payment methods on one device; one for each member of the family depending on the fingerprint.

Mobile is huge, but even though we’re starting to see some front runners emerge, the kings of mobile have yet to be crowned. It is entirely possible that nobody has even heard of the new billion dollar companies yet. The possibilities are endless.

 

Justin Profile PictureThis post was guest authored by Justin Fowler. Justin is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and the co-founder of Audio Press. You can find him on Twitter and on his blog.

The Near Future Of Mobile Commerce: What’s In Store For Us?

Is Mobile Banking the End of Cash?

 

Photo courtesy of SimpleIllustrations via Flickr Creative Commons

Apart from being a day-to-day communication medium, mobile devices are being used today as an internet device for social networking, product research, and even purchasing goods. Last year, eMarketer forecasted an expected rise of 4.55 million global users of mobile devices this 2014. This is the very reason why many companies are now investing in mobile eCommerce (mCommerce) sites.

But, with the fast paced world of mobile technology, what can we expect from mCommerce’s future? In this feature post, we will give you an idea of the kind of services we can expect from mobile commerce sites in the near future based on the existing trends.

Snap-To-Buy Convience

Imagine that you see a fashionable handbag used by a bypasser down the street. You took a picture of it and scan it with a dedicated mobile application in your smartphone and viola – your phone instantly directs you to a website where you can buy it. Though the idea is still in its infancy, the mobile image recognition (MIR) technology is already here. Google’s Goggles (a functional tool for Android-powered devices) can be used to scan barcodes of international merchandise and popular logos.

In line with this, Forbes reported that LTU Technologies has already launched LTU Mobile application last year to help their partners, Adidas and L’Oreal, to experiment and embed the MIR technology into their mobile apps. Their customers can now scan on their catalogues to purchase their products instantly from online stores. As of the moment, the technology is still limited to two-dimensional scanning, but it’s only a matter of time before 3D MIR scanning enters the scene.

Video Content In mCommerce

Guy Mucklow of Econsultancy has noticed that few businesses have already dabbled with the use of video content for mCommerce sites. The results were phenomenal, since retailers can incorporate rich media content in their consumer pages. With the advent of faster mobile internet broadband and 4G LTE, video clips are now easier to stream than before.

Wise Marketing has also seen the power of leveraging short movie clips as an effective means of engaging customers online, in the form of “advertisements, customer service videos, or how-to instructions.” If companies will realize its full potential, we will be experiencing a lot of it sooner than later.

Peer-To-Peer Sharing Is On The Rise

NFC (Near Field Communication) is a mobile technology that allows peer-to-peer file transferring and mobile payment transactions by tapping two NFC-capable devices together. Right now, numerous businesses are already leveraging the technology in their physical stores. An NFC-powered point-of-sale machine is used by their cashiers to accept payments from their customers’ mobile devices (where a credit card or a bank account is synced).

For mCommerce, we are looking forward to this new era of transaction, where shoppers can pay for their online purchases by tapping their NFC-enabled bank cards on their mobile devices when they are prompted to.

More Functional Mobile Apps

Alex Campbell, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Vibes, studied the existing mCommerce trends and wrote what he foresees in the future of mobile apps the inclusion of in-store personalization. Campbell reiterated that “apps will become personalized and more helpful in-store and will adapt based on a customer’s location.” Say for instance, you are using a retailer’s app named Brand X, the moment you will enter one of their physical stores, the app will present you with the following:

· In-store map or merchant locator

· Push notifications of deals and exclusive promos

· A tailored suggestion based on your past searches and purchases

This shouldn’t be a problem these days, with app development companies like Apptive that are offering solutions for businesses to create their very own mCommerce apps. For the in-store personalization, they can use Bluetooth-powered indoor positioning devices like Beacons to deliver a whole new way of user convenience to their store visitors.

Augmented Reality For Window Shopping

Augmented Reality (AR) will play a significant role in the future of this industry. Using an app configured with the device’s mobile camera, shoppers can try on a product without physically touching it. Some small enterprises are already leveraging the tool nowadays. Web-based jewelers Ice took advantage of the technology to let their customers try on a bracelet, necklace, or a pair of earrings.  Though most of these companies are using PC websites to do the trick, it’s only a matter of time before they get ported to a mobile app.

Because of these innovations, Juniper Research estimates that in 2017, the value of mCommerce transactions is expected to reach 3.2 trillion dollars. What is your insight regarding the future of mCommerce?

 

This post was contributed by guest author Jennifer Birch

myMINIavy Jennifer Birch is a tech blogger with a background in commerce and app development.  She attends various annual tech conferences and events to get the latest report on mobile  innovations for businesses. Get the latest from Jenni via Google +.

Announcing Apptive’s Partnership With Shopify!

Apptive partners with Shopify

We are extremely excited to announce our new partnership with Shopify! While we believe that this relationship will prove mutually beneficial for both Apptive and Shopify, Shopify Merchants stand to gain the most from this combination of top-notch ecommerce and mobile commerce solutions!

Check out more from our press release below:

Apptive, the Austin-based mobile commerce app creation and management platform, is excited to announce their new partnership with Shopify. Apptive has integrated directly with the Shopify API and Shopify App Store to make it simple and fast for Shopify merchants who wish to expand their mobile commerce strategy with an app.

“It has become clear that native mobile commerce apps will continue to grow in importance for our merchants. Apptive offers a compelling option for store owners looking for a convenient, affordable solution that is directly integrated with Shopify”, saysBlair Beckwith, Head of Shopify App Store.

Apptive has found success in the eCommerce sector with its EasyApp platform, a drag and drop app creation and management solution geared towards eCommerce platforms …

Read the rest of the release here!

 

Bigcommerce Launches New Integrated App Store

Bigcommerce App Store

 

We are excited to announce that our partners at Bigcommerce have launched their new integrated app store! Bigcommerce customers will have unprecedented access to apps that will assist ecommerce merchants in all of their marketing and selling efforts. Apptive is proud to be amongst the first group of integrated apps for Bigcommerce merchants!

From the Bigcommerce announcement:

“Part of being a true platform means having a seamless and delightful experience for your clients, regardless of what they’re trying to do. While our app store was great, the experience of finding, installing and managing apps was less than ideal. By bringing the app store right into the Bigcommerce experience, we’ve made it easy to browse, search, install and manage all of the apps you use with Bigcommerce.”

Check out the full story here!

Infographic: M-Commerce & You!

There has been a lot of buzz about m-commerce (or “mobile ecommerce”) lately, so we’ve put together an infographic that will let you know a little bit more about this developing trend as well as some strategies you can use to include m-commerce in your business!

M-Commerce & You!

Share this Image On Your Site

Please include attribution to Apptive.com with this graphic.

M-Commerce & You!

eCommerce Mobile Apps

eCommerce is going mobile! Enjoy this short promotional video and please share with anyone who has an ecommerce site. Going mobile allows online store owners to drastically extend their reach to engage customers no matter where they are!

 

Mobile Apps for Ecommerce

 

Apptive CEO Chris Belew discusses the rise in mobile Ecommerce and how store owners can take advantage with a mobile app!