Mobile experiences have been gaining a lot of attention in the eCommerce world in the past few years. Combined with the lifestyle changes introduced by COVID-19, the consumer demand for them has gone significantly up.
When developing a strong mobile strategy, business strategists need to pay close attention to the customer experience. Mobile experiences have been gaining a lot of attention in the eCommerce world in the past few years. Combined with the lifestyle changes introduced by COVID-19, the consumer demand for them has gone significantly up. It’s imperative that retailers and brands who currently do not offer any mobile experience to their customers quickly come up with an action plan.
You’ll need to make a decision on two fronts for this mobile strategy:
1. Decide on the experience: How do you decide what needs to be part of the mobile experience for your customers? Do you want to offer exactly the same features that you have on your desktop experience? Do you want to offer a complementary experience?
“Mobile Engagement Matures From Siloed To Moments-Based” — Forrester (2020)
2. Decide on the technology stack: There has been a lot of development on the mobile technology stack. How do you decide what’s the best option for your customers and your organization?
“The Everything Customer Expects Multi-experience, Not Omnichannel” — Gartner (2019)
Creating a Mobile Experience
Rather than thinking of mobile experiences as stand-alone, we recommend you look at these as the mobile “moments” that are part of the customer journey across the multiple channels.
Take a close look at the holistic customer journey, and identify areas where the presence of a mobile exclusive feature would make sense. A mobile exclusive feature is any feature that leverages an inbuilt capability of the mobile device and operating system. These features typically are not feasible on a desktop device, or are typically inferior to what is possible via a mobile device.
Here are some of mobile exclusive features that we see today:
Fingerprint based identification
Depending on your industry, product set, and targeted customer segments, these features could be widely varying. Here are some examples:
Search for a product by voice, via speech recognition
Payment via Apple Pay during checkout
Augmented reality views of a product (ex. displaying how a particular table would look in your living room or how a particular shade of lipstick looks on your face)
Product stock availability shown automatically for your nearby stores using the geolocation feature
In-store promotional offer notifications as you walk into a physical store via beacon-bluetooth interactions
Auto-checkout in a physical store
Creating a Mobile Technology Stack
The technology stack to deliver mobile experiences has evolved significantly in the last decade. We have classified these into five categories. Within each category, there may be multiple options for you to implement them.
1. Mobile optimized web applications
These are traditional web applications that are optimized for mobile devices by making them responsive or adaptive. Today’s customers expect all web applications to be mobile friendly. So if you have any web property that is not mobile optimized, address those first.
2. Native mobile apps
An application that is built exclusively for a specific mobile operating system (Android vs iOS vs Windows). You can offer any of the mobile exclusive features via these apps, but keep in mind that your customers will need to go to an app store and download and install them.
Once you decide to go for a native mobile app, the next decision will be to decide on the app development platform.
You have a choice of:
Platforms specific to a mobile OS vendor (Objective-C or Swift in Xcode IDE to build iOS apps, Kotlin or Java, in Android Studio IDE to build Android apps)
Cross-platform app development (React Native from Facebook, Flutter from Google)
Domain specific low-code platforms (retail domain specific offering from poq)
3. Hybrid mobile apps
These are mobile optimized web applications run from a (shell) native mobile app. If you have a web application that you want to make it available as a mobile app with limited mobile exclusive features (say offline connectivity), this may be a good choice.
4. Progressive web applications (PWA)
Offering the best of both worlds, these are web applications with app-like features. These are built by adding ‘service workers’ (to handle the mobile exclusive features) and an ‘application manifest” (to support addition of a home-screen icon for quick access).
There are multiple open-source front-ends supporting PWA for eCommerce platforms (ReactStorefront, Vue Storefront). These may be a good option for you if your eCommerce platform is one of the supported ones. You could expose all the functionality of your eCommerce store via a PWA.
5. Mini apps
These are lightweight native mobile apps that can run on a mobile device without installation. These go by different names based on the mobile OS - App Clips for iOS, Instant Apps for Android. The mini apps are typically built to meet the customer where they are - for example, mini apps can allow a customer to do mobile checkout of a product that shows up in Google search results, or see AR views for a or a product that was shared by a friend.
How to Choose
You will need to evaluate across these five categories, and narrow down on the implementation option.
Some factors to consider as part of this evaluation:
Mobile experience that is relevant to your customers
Lakshmi KP is an experienced Digital Product Manager with a diverse background in eCommerce, financial services, insurance, healthcare, and data analytics. She has successfully led several of Object Edge’s client engagements for building digital products. Lakshmi has also been instrumental in setting up frameworks and guidelines for the Object Edge Product Team to be efficient and successful in their client engagements.