For independent grocers and the wholesalers that serve them
As a new member here at the IGN we thought it would be great to start by asking what members here think about the mobile technology and what are you planning to do for your customers in 2013? Are you optimizing your websites or considering other options for reaching shoppers on their smartphones?
Looking forward to hearing your feedback, opinions, comments and questions.
My first question is what makes more sense to implement, a mobile optimized website or an app? Do you have to do both?
What are the advantanges/disadvantages to both or either? Which do customers prefer? and why?
I think the challenge is where do you start the investment in mobile..what features are they really looking for from a supermarket? which i believe would be different from a mass merchandiser.
I think the nature of our business makes this quite different from the way people shop for a tv or refrigerator...thats a single item purchase...a supermarket shopping trip is many items with many choices in non standard criteria..(think perishables)
What are the advantages the customers want to gain by using mobile in a supermarket setting?
Thank you for your valid questions. I'm preparing a comprehensive answer to some fairly important topics. Just wanted you to know that your message has been received and I'll respond shortly.
Forgive me for such a long-winded reply, but you asked several popular questions and I wanted to address them all.
To answer your first question, "Do I need both a mobile website and a mobile app", the long answer is "that depends on your mobile strategy goals." The short answer is “No, you don’t need both, though both have value.”
The primary advantage of a mobile optimized site is its relationship with the main website. With proper design, updating the main website results in updates to the mobile side as well. A smaller advantage is the fact that users don’t need to download anything to start using a mobile site. They simply connect to the internet and navigate to the site.
One downside to a mobilized website is the technology itself. A mobilized website relies upon a browser to display the information, the code. At any given time not all browsers or versions of browsers will necessarily properly display the latest HTML code generated by the site. And of course the website design itself must be properly designed to display correctly on all of the various devices.
Perhaps the biggest downside to a browser based solution is that the site is only visible when there is an active web connection. Customers need constant connectivity for the site to have value.
The first advantage of a mobile application is in the design. Mobile apps are designed for the unique display requirements of each specific mobile device. That means that the graphics, fonts and buttons are all the right size and in the right place. This is more work for the developer but it less problematic for the users.
Because of the mobile app design, the functionality is typically responsive and reliable. A slow internet connection will not hinder the basic functions of the app. Plus, the application will be able to perform at least some functions without internet connectivity, or with poor internet connectivity. While updating data will require an internet connection the app is not totally reliant upon it.
What do customers prefer? Customers like things that work. The advantage here goes to the app. Again, there are variables in web browsers and devices that can frustrate some users.
Like any other technology, most customers use mobile shopping apps for the basic functions, and a smaller group looks for the more advanced features. Mobile coupons and specials are huge among consumers. Being able to quickly find the “daily deal” is the most widely used feature among mobile shopping apps and what consumers expect to get from their retailer. In this regard, grocery shopping is no different than buying a refrigerator.
Delivering coupons to a shopper’s phone allows the shopper to quickly find that ‘special offer’ and use it. No more clipping coupons and shoving them into a purse.
Because a shopping trip consists of many items, using a shopping list is a widely accepted practice. Now imagine that shopping list is on the phone, where special items can be looked up and added to the list before they get to the store.
The advantages for a shopper in using a mobile solution are to make shopping easier and more economical. Better access to specials, instant mobile access to recipes and easily adding recipe ingredients to the shopping list and always having that shopping handy. (How many times are shopping lists forgotten but how often do we go anywhere without our phones?)
Where does a retailer start in their quest to ‘go mobile’? Start where you get the most bang for your buck in the short term and where you can upgrade when the budget allows down the road. If you were developing your own application the development cost for the app would be significantly higher than creating a mobilized website. But with a custom branded application the table is turned. The cost to have an app ‘branded’ is often less than the cost to develop a mobilized website.
Well designed technology should make life easier, not more complex. It’s a bonus when that technology also helps us save money. And for the retailer, when you offer your customer those benefits they are more likely to come back.