4 Steps for Going Mobile for the Holidays

Nov 08, 2012 11:23 PM  By

Mobile adoption is growing at triple digits year. Even customers who still prefer to make purchases in traditional brick and mortar stores are likely to do mobile research before making an in-store purchase.

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In fact, 43% of respondents to a Motorola survey stated that mobile has completely improved their offline shopping experience and 87% of retailers said that customers would be able to find a better deal by using their phones.

It’s going to be a big holiday season for mobile, and with worldwide mobile payment transactions surpassing $171.5 billion in 2012, up 62% from $106 million last year smart retailers cannot afford to be left behind, according to Gartner.

Here are four tips for retailers that are still hesitating to go mobile:

Start simple
Currently mobile websites can be simplified versions of a company’s website, used for marketing and informational access. You hear about how developers are planning on integrating HTML5 in one form or another into their mobile apps, and this can daunting to many small and medium businesses.

However it’s predicted that this collection of next-gen web technologies is still five to ten years from becoming a suitable basis for businesses.

Cheaper outweighs limited
A mobile website is much like a traditional browser-based web application built with three core technologies (HTML, CSS and Javascript). If properly built, a mobile website will be platform and device independent and able to run on any web-enabled device.

A user who wishes to view a mobile website does not have to download an application, rather the user accesses the URL for the desired site via a mobile device; the content is then downloaded from a central web server.

But because mobile websites do not have to be optimized for specific devices, they tend to be cheaper and faster to build than mobile native apps. Don’t let the limited capabilities stop you.

Increase your accessibility to customers
Create an app that lets you use the GPS capabilities that are already incorporated into smart phone technology. For instance, you can map out the locations of your competitors who are in the same mall, and send a push notification to customers as soon as they enter a competitor’s store.

There are many variations of a mobile app, ranging from games to retail sales apps. Be sure to take advantage of ones that provide accessibility to customers.

Don’t break the bank
If you are a small to medium size merchant, you need to prioritize your investments. If you haven’t done anything in mobile, my recommendation would be to first start with a mobile site, make it work across all operating systems, browsers and devices.

It’s much easier to accomplish that than to have both site and app, which requires additional investment. In the end, it all comes down to your mobile goals as a company. If your company has a store front and you want to increase its mobile exposure and marketing capabilities without breaking the bank, then simply put up a mobile website. Some mobile is better than no mobile.

Manish Chowdhary is the founder and CEO of an ecommerce platform and order management system provider GoECart.