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Reporting from Inbound: Optimizing for the Mobile Commerce Revolution

This week members of the Yottaa team are at HubSpot’s INBOUND 2014 conference in our hometown of Boston. Today was the first day, so here’s the first of our session recap blogs.



Image via @hubspot on Twitter

First up on our must-attend session list was Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy at Edison Research, speaking on The Mobile Commerce Revolution.

If you work in technology or business, I’m sure you’ve heard about the “rise of mobile” ad naseum. But what is striking now is not the trend itself, but the continued inability of companies to adapt a winning mobile strategy.  Consider this statistic from ShopVisible: Mobile Devices account for 30 Percent of eCommerce Traffic, but register only 15 Percent of sales.

To help right this persistent wrong, Tom spoke with over 50 businesses that are succeeding at mobile. He offered several lessons he learned, including:

Think about strategy before technology

Behavior trumps technology, as technology will rapidly change to match a behavioral trend. As an example, marketers and retailers realized a need to adapt for smartphones. They approached the problem from a technology standpoint, first creating of a separate mobile website, then evolving to responsive sites that optimize for the device of a given visitor. These technology-driven trends didn’t stick because it didnt address the real need: to give consumers on the go what they need, exactly when they need it. The future is apparent, says Tom: responsive sites will give way to “reactive” sites, ones that know where the user is, what they need, when they need it. 

Subtract, don’t add

Smartphones make life simpler, eliminating burdens of and catering to an on-the-go user.  Apps should reflect that definition.  This may mean doing away with trendy functionality that seems necessary today, but is more of just a ‘means’ than a means to an end.  Tom gave a great example of a small taco restaurant chain that created an app allowing users to order tacos for pick up. And only that. They dispensed with possible additions such as user reviews, photo sharing, and mobile payments in order to make it as streamlined easy to use as possible. Engagement with the bare-bones app, and the effect on their bottom line, has been huge.

Think holistically

“Every moment is a mobile moment,” said Tom, and the best way to engage in a desired relationship could actually be an offline strategy. Our devices are with us everywhere and they hold the power to square our online and offline worlds. By blending mobile with more traditional forms of communication, businesses can create a seamless experience where medium or technology becomes invisible – look at the success of Instagram, an app that’s dependent on and creates a window into, an offline world.

Now, what does this all mean to us?

Tom Webster’s tips are a great place to begin mobile strategy development. He’s right that delivering experiences to users based on their mobile context is the future, and the best way to excel with mobile commerce. At Yottaa, we’ve seen retail customers achieve increases in conversions far beyond what they expected by using our solution, which delivers experiences based on context. This is what Tom called a “reactive site” — whatever you call it, we’ve seen that it works, and it’s great to see it gaining wider renown.   

We also appreciate Tom’s lesson about simplicity but know that it’s not always so easy. Most online and mobile apps are complex and distributed. It’s just not possible for a large online retailer, whose customers expect all the functionality of a desktop experience on their mobile device, to get more streamlined. What these businesses should strive for is to deliver an experience just as intuitive as the taco company’s app, but still fully functional.  The most important step in this goal is performance. If the app’s bulky functionality slows down the experience, that’s a non-starter. Customers have told us that solving performance first through our solution enabled them to stay current, stacking up features and fidelity, without losing ground on performance. 

We’ll be up bright and early tomorrow for more of Inbound! If you’re here, tweet at us @yottaa to meet up!

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