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From Uber to Airbnb, there’s no doubt that the majority of industries are faced with disruption from digital newcomers everyday, and the financial industry is no different. On August 19th we joined the Digital Finance Institute at FinTechTO for a day filled with the latest in financial technology.

The full day event in the heart of downtown Toronto featured the brightest leaders in fintech with speakers from Google, TD, ScotiaBank, Mastercard and CIBC (to name a few), on topics ranging from anti-money laundering and fighting financial crime, to financial inclusion and banking innovation. And for the grand finale? Google shared a super exclusive, top secret keynote (stay tuned for their future announcements)!

Leaving the venue absolutely packed with new info, here are some of our favourite facts and discussions of the day.

FinTech Takeaways:

- From the challenging process of tracing and validating credit, to facing an intangible global market, the industry faces many hurdles everyday

- When it comes to Bitcoins, the level of their anonymity depends on what we want to tolerate as a society

- With the advancements in technology and the increase in fraudulent behaviour, the Canadian legislators are working to keep up with the pace and adapt to the changes

- Stats show that 92% of the time, Uber users rate their experience 5 stars. We have come to expect this type of seamless experience across all tech platforms, setting the bar pretty high for fintech!

- Digital offerings have become the center of our lives; with 73% of millennials even expressing their desire to bank with digital forums such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook, rather than established financial institutions

- By the year 2020, 3 Billion people will own mobile phones & 50 Billion devices will be connected to the internet!

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Whether you are ”Gluten-Free,” “Vegan,” a “Foodie,” or a “Junk-Foodie,” it is undeniable that the food industry is one that runs on trends. Which is why our partners from Havas Worldwide decided to investigate the topic, and uncover what the ever-changing landscape means for brands, marketers, and consumers alike. This report, supported by global-surveys, delivered a number of great insights, but here at Plastic we were most interested in their findings that related to the digital space. More and more consumers are introducing technology into their eating-habits– through ordering, diet tracking, and social media apps– changing the way we connect with the food industry. We have chosen a couple of our favourite insights from the report and have highlighted them below, but be sure to check out the rest of the report here.

Living busier lives has made it tough for some people to continually monitor that they are always eating healthy, which is why many have turned to digital devices to help them track their food intake. One-third of millennials, and one-quarter of gen X’ers surveyed make use of digital devices to make healthy food choices, while baby boomers trail far behind with only 11%. With greater connectivity also comes the ability to access an unlimited source of information regarding the food around them, and decide what works best for them. By being more aware of their choices, consumers can feel more confident that they are making good decisions. That being said, technology can also have the adverse effect of making it easier to obtain unhealthy foods as well. Technology can only do so much, and it is up to the consumer to create a plan and stick to it.

The report also found that food has become a much larger player in conversations on social media. We understand many of you may hate (or love, no need to be embarrassed!) seeing people post photos of their meals, but “Foodporn,’ does generate clicks, the same way the Food Network generates viewers who never plan on cooking the meals they watch. Capitalizing on this, many food brands have found social media as a way to reach their consumers on a more organic (no pun intended) level. Starbucks (10 million followers on Instagram) and Redbull (5 million followers on Instagram) have very different styles on social media, but have both stayed true to their brands to generate massive social followings.

If you are hungry for more information about trends in the food industry, be sure to check out Havas Prosumer’s full report on the “Future of Food” here.

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With summer in full swing, we want to make sure that you’re ready for when any mobile topics come up while hanging out at your next barbeque. Our R&D team has scoured their top resources to round up the newest and hottest mobile trends, and share them with you in our new Summer Mobile X Report!

Here is an overview of the “Big 3” topics we covered to give you a taste of what you can find in the report:

Apple’s WWDC Conference Highlights (See Page 8)
While it may have been slimmer on hardware announcements (not surprising for a developer conference) than some people had been looking for, WWDC 2016 still had some big updates for the majority of Apple’s product line. From new OS’s to reinvented apps, the WWDC left consumers excited for what’s to come from Apple.

Fintech Trends for 2016 (See Page 14)
With financial institutions feeling the pressure from disruptive startups, they have begun to focus more on investing in new technology themselves. For an industry already on the rise, this influx of backing capital can only mean one thing–exponential growth is coming. With that in mind, we have laid out the 7 fintech trends that we expect to continue in 2016.

Chatbots (See Page 18)
While developers are still looking for a way to truly pass the Turing Test, many messaging services and brands are turning to chatbots as a new way to interact with consumers. You may have already unknowingly encountered some, which is why feel it is the right time to read up.

Something here that peaked your interest? View the full report here!

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While most university students are off on their summer vacations, a captive group of inquisitive minds was on hand Tuesday night at the University of Toronto to hear our own Director of Mobile Strategy, Parisa Durrani, deliver a guest lecture. For the Foundation of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media students, Parisa was able to give them a first hand account of what factors go into curating a successful mobile strategy. She covered topics from “what do you need to know about an organization before creating a strategy?” to “how do you know what feature sets will work for an app?” and “is one app enough?”

It also gave the students the opportunity to ask her about her career path which has taken her from jobs with the CBC and Chicago Bulls, to her current role at Plastic. Parisa always has an ear to the pulse of what consumers are looking for in mobile apps, and being able to hear from the future minds of the industry offered her a fresh outlook on where mobile is heading.

Parisa would like to thank Donna Papacosta, and University of Toronto for allowing her to share her insights and experiences with the class.

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You’d think that with the warmer weather, would come more relaxed work days- but not at Plastic Mobile! Which means that we haven’t had time to share everything that our team has been getting up to. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our experience sharing our thoughts on mobile UX research with a full house of Interactive Ontario members during their latest iLunch session.

Plastic’s Strategic Marketing Coordinator, Alex Herron, and Director of Strategy and New Business, Hannah Savage, led the group through an informative session that focused on how neuromarketing can be used to better understand the behaviours of mobile users. The presentation focused on the different types of research that goes into creating industry leading mobile app UX’s and what it means for brands.

Alex and Hannah would like to thank Interactive Ontario for hosting such a great event, and we look forward to attending some of their other events moving forward. To learn more about the the insights Plastic gained from undertaking their neuromarketing study, you can find the full report here.

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To promote her new Autumn/Winter line of 8-bit inspired handbags, fashionista Anya Hindmarch and her eponymous brand, recently launched a mobile app (The PIX by Anya Hindmarch) that allows users to pixelate their photo’s.

Our Director of Mobile Strategy, Parisa Durrani, spoke with Luxury Daily to discuss why a brand, such as Anya Hindmarch, would look to mobile for a creative way to promote a new product line.

“The PIX app is another way for the brand to portray her fun and playful attitude while simultaneously getting free brand awareness when people share the images they make,” Durrani states.

“The novelty of the app may wear off soon for users, but it will be worth it the Hindmarch camp can capitalize on the small window created by this campaign app. This window of opportunity is tight since the app is not particularly deep in terms of offering, which will see the majority of users uninstall after a single use,” she adds.

For more of Parisa’s insights on the topic of creative brand apps, and to view the article in full, click here!

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On Monday, Apple unveiled several new software updates at its WWDC keynote in California. It included a major iOS overhaul, as well as better cross-device integration with a rebranded desktop OS. Needless to say, this year’s developer conference featured some of the biggest announcements about Apple’s mobile and desktop software in recent years. Here’s a quick overview of some of the most interesting things to come out of WWDC 2016:

  1. Siri is now open to third-party developers through API

The recent proliferation of digital assistants and conversational AI from major players like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook made it seem like Apple wasn’t doing nearly enough to capitalize on its first-mover advantage with Siri. This new update, however, seems like Apple’s attempt to finally turn Siri into a platform and bring the virtual assistant back as a leader in the space. Third-party integration will allow outside apps to activate from Siri’s voice commands while allowing Apple to craft stronger relationships with mobile users through better AI and democratizing third-party apps through a single platform.

  1. AI: iOS 10’s central theme

In another push to get ahead in the AI space, Apple’s iOS 10 has integrated personalized context into users’ mobile experiences. QuickType text suggestions will now lean on Siri intelligence about the user by offerings suggestions based on things like location, schedule and contacts. On-device computer vision will now detect both faces and objects in images, allowing the Photos app to organize images by events, people, places, and related memories. User data will be held on-device, keeping personal data within the user’s control.

  1. Messages got a major revamp

With iOS 10, iMessage users can expect an enhanced experience with Apple’s messaging platform. The most drastic change comes from third-party app integration within Messages, allowing users to do things like order food and send money straight from the app. Emojis come to the centre of this update, with their increased size and the ability to “emojify” text. An emoji search engine will be directly integrated into Messages’ keyboard, and predictive text will offer emoji suggestions for highlighted words. In other words, now you’ll be able to simply tap on a word and replace it with an emoji! Scalable “bubble effects” will also be added, allowing you to adjust the font size of your text, and your own handwriting and small special effects.

  1. 3D Touch will now have an expanded role in iOS 10

Back when iOS 9 was announced, 3D Touch was just a cool additional feature. But with iOS 10, 3D Touch is given some genuinely useful functions. This feature can be used straight from the lock screen, tapping on right side to unlock the camera or the left side to open up widgets. As with many other WWDC 2016 updates, third-party apps will also be able to integrate with 3D Touch. From a user perspective, this will undoubtedly make it much easier to interact with live-updating apps like Uber and ESPN.

  1. Goodbye OS X and hello macOS

Apple has finally moved on from its beloved OS X naming structure with the introduction of macOS. But the name change isn’t the only exciting thing about the latest macOS, Sierra. New features emphasize better cross-device integration for a more seamless Apple user experience. Universal Clipboard will allow users to access their desktop and documents across all macOS and iOS devices. Apple Pay will also be available on Mac, linking up intelligently to your iPhone’s TouchID for authentication. Similarly, Auto Unlock will allow Apple Watch users to unlock their Mac by simply walking up to their desktop. Finally, Siri will be available on Mac, giving users completely hands-free access to their desktop computer.

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Once an app is downloaded, as the developer or brand, your work is not complete. It is the first 3-7 days that are the most telling of whether or not an app will be successful. A study by SimilarWeb found that the average app only retains 23% of its daily active users after it’s third day. So what does this mean for brands? What can be done to try and limit or prevent uninstalls all together?

To ensure that you get past the honeymoon phase, (where the majority of apps see their demise) you must hook the user on their initial visit to show that you provide value to them. This is where mobile onboarding comes into play. Onboarding – often done through tutorial and sign in screens – is a way to introduce users to the app and its features.

Have an onboarding process that is too long, and you risk the user losing interest. Have an onboarding that is too short, and the user may miss out on seeing the value of the app. Although still an inexact science due to the thousands of variables that go into making an app, there still are a number of foundational elements that should be followed when developing an onboarding strategy. Here are 6 of the rules that our designers and developers live by:

Choose a strategy that works for you
Depending on the objectives for your app, there are 3 common strategies for mobile onboarding, and it is important to recognize which one is right for you.

  • Benefits-oriented onboarding: explicitly state the benefits that the app can bring the user
  • Function-oriented onboarding: highlighting specific, often core, features of the app
  • Progressive onboarding: offer guidance to users while they actively work through the app

Welcome the user
The onboarding screen is the first date of the mobile app world, and as with first dates, impressions matter. By simply welcoming the user with a positive greeting, you are starting the relationship off on the right foot, and put them in a better mood for the rest of the onboarding.

Give choice
The level of familiarity with your app will vary greatly between users: by giving them choice on how much of a tutorial they need, you can eliminating the barrier for those users who like to learn via exploration.

Prototyping
Without validation, you cannot truly know how users will truly respond to your onboarding experience. To create the best process possible it is important to do user testing techniques such as touch heatmaps and live usability tests.

Get them going faster
For apps which require more information from the user to get set up (Eg. in apps which focus on personalization) they should think about integrating the customizable features into the first screens the user sees. This is so that they can get thrown into an experience of their choosing once onboarding is done.

Onboarding is ongoing
You should not look at onboarding as a one-time thing. Although it is most important during the user’s first interaction, it is also an important way to introduce and explain new features.  For example, if a banking app were to introduce “Tap to Pay” into their current app, they could use onboarding screens to make users aware of the new feature and teach them how to use it.

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Once a year developers, journalists, and general Google/Android fanboys descend on the Bay area to see what Google has been working on behind closed doors for the last number of months. Even with all the speculation and “leaks” that pop up in the blogosphere in the months leading up to the event, it is quite impressive how much of the announcements at Google I/O are total surprises. With only a limited amount of seats at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, we have rounded up the top 5 things you need to know from the event yesterday. Even if you are reading this on your iPad, while checking your Apple watch, and downloading the new Drake album on Apple music, you may be pleasantly surprised with some of Google’s new offerings!

1)N Stands for…Choice?
One of the fun little quirks that we have come to expect from new Android OS’s is their food related names. With a developer version of Android N being sent out earlier this year, rumors have been flying with different N-monikers. Would they use a beloved brand in Nutella, similarly to they way they used KitKat for K? Would they stick with the code name New York Cheesecake? Could it be Nougat or Nachos? Well instead of deciding themselves, they have chosen to take the democratic route and leave the honors up to the public. To vote you can either #NameAndroidN or visit their website here.

2) Google Home powered by Google Assistant
As part of Google’s plan to make your daily life simpler, they have announced Google Home, a home hub aimed at linking all of your connected devices. This vase-shaped device is powered by Google Assistant, an extension of their Google Now technology, which is a voice and text activated digital assistant. Akin to the Amazon Echo, you can ask Google Home who starred in your favourite movie, to play music through connected speakers, or even change the temperature of your house (permitted you own a Google-owned Nest thermostat). And for the design conscious, the base of the device is removable and comes in a variety of colours to match your room’s decor. Sadly, it is unclear whether or not they will be rolling out a floral option to match the pattern of your grandma’s old couch.

3) Android ventures into VR
With all the hype around VR these days with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR, it was inevitable that Google would be coming out with its own version. Already having explored the lower-cost end of the VR spectrum with Cardboard, Google introduced the Daydream. Similar to the Gear VR and Cardboard, Daydream is a headset which is powered by Android phones. However, unlike the Gear VR, Daydream will be compatible with phones from a variety of manufacturers, having already signed contracts with LG, HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, Asus, and Alcatel. You can expect to see this hit the market this fall.

4) Allo and Duo
These two new app offerings from Google are looking to make communicating through mobile much more immersive. Allo is a chat app loaded with multiple new features that take advantage of the aforementioned Google Assistant. The goal of Allo is to learn more about you and make it easier for you to reflect that. As a companion to Allo, Google released Duo which is a video calling app (many are calling it Google’s answer to Facetime). The main feature that separates Duo and it’s competitors is Knock Knock, a feature that allows the receiver to see video of the caller before they have even picked up the phone. This can give the receiver more context to the call, letting you see where the caller is and what they are up to.

5) Everything Else
This event was jam-packed with announcements from many Google departments, and we would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention them.

  • You can now open specific parts of apps without installing them by clicking on URLs
  • Android Pay can now work on partnered mobile sites
  • Android Wear 2.0 was introduced, which looks to allow for standalone apps
  • Developers will be excited with new improvements to the Play Store, Android Studio, Firebase, and Google Cloud

 

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While the smartphone arms race still looms large, one of the biggest trends to emerge from the major release events in the first half of 2016 (CES, MWC & SXSW) was the introduction of new periphery hardware. All of these new hardware devices are aiming to modify the way we interact with our smartphones. Each one of these new technologies, from VR headsets to home assistants, is impacting the way users experience their smartphones.

Here we will spotlight some of the ones that we found more interesting, and look at their possible implications for smartphone users.

Samsung Gear
By partnering with Oculus on the Gear VR, it is apparent that Samsung is very serious about attempting to be the first mobile hardware developer to bring VR to the mainstream.

  • Launched Gear 360 for consumers to produce own VR content
  • Circular Camera with two lenses, each capable of filming 196 degrees
  • Ability to share content instantly to social media

Sony Xperia
This year, Sony Xperia debuted three new peripheral devices that can be linked to their Xperia line of mobile phones.

  • Xperia Ear: a “hearable” Bluetooth headset, that acts as a personal assistant
  • Xperia Eye: Wearable camera that captures images instantaneously via voice command and face detection software
  • Xperia Agent: Multitalented home hub, with a tabletop projects and IoT connectivity

LG
Similar to Sony, LG has also introduced three of its own smartphone companion gadgets this year.

  • LG 360 VR Headset: Compatible with the LG G5, the 360 VR aims to shrink the adjustment time to VR with a less bulky design and digital simplicity
  • LG 360 Camera: A pocket-sized VR camera capable of both 180- and 360-degree video in 2K
  • LG Rolling Bot: Real-life offspring of BB-8 can roll around its surroundings and live stream video and images through its partner app

Takeaway
So what does this mean for smartphone users?
1) It shows that there is going to be a large link between smartphones and VR & AR moving forward with all the resources these companies are allocating to these technologies.
2) Phone manufacturers are using these gadgets to convince people to switch to their flagship devices since many of these products are exclusively compatible with their own brand of smartphone.

Either way, smartphone manufacturers are looking to expand their offerings and create new ways for their consumers to interact with their brands. By creating an ecosystem of products for consumers to use, they are utilizing the allure of new technologies to create a new revenue stream as well as create awareness of their other devices.

 

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                                                                                                                                 Via @AlexanderBFung

The International Payment Conference, InPayCo, is an international exhibition gathering impressive leaders across the city to provide insights and expertise on modernizing payments. The two day event combines informative roundtable, keynotes and workshop sessions with the industry’s foremost leaders and experts, including Plastic Mobile CEO Sep Seyedi.

Sep joined a team of industry experts, Michel Brunet, Marc Lemieux-Lawyer, Elana Hahn and Jeff Shinder to lead a workshop on payment systems across the Americas.

Topics of discussion at the workshop included:

  • How to modernize the innovation and infrastructure of US payments
  • The major role that different markets play in the creation of such a service (I.e. Merchants, Card Schemes and Banks)
  • Canada’s method of updating framework
  • The process of financial inclusion; proving to be a key component in Latin America

Throughout his years in the mobile industry, Sep has had the opportunity to experience first hand, the remarkable changes happening in the payment sector while working beside some of the largest banks in North America. The panel was an amazing opportunity to share his expertise as well as gain insights on a rapidly expanding industry.

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Back by popular demand, Plastic Mobile sponsored MUX will be hosing “UX in the Virtual & Augmented Worlds” on Thursday, May 19th!

As one of the country’s largest Mobile User Experience meetups, MUXers have the chance to gain insight and perspective on some of the hottest trends in mobile from impressive industry leaders.

This year, step into the world of Virtual and Augmented User Experience with Josh Maldonado and Stephan Tanguay as they share their specific knowledge and experience with Virtual and Augmented Realities.

Complete with mingle time and plenty of snacks, it’s definitely a night you won’t want to miss!

Click here for more information!

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The current market value of Artificial Intelligence reached $126.24bn this year, and is estimated at $3,061.35bn by the end of 2020- and with that comes the opportunity for brands to leverage the latest in AI technology towards their day to day operations, marketing and sales efforts and loyalty strategies, among others. Here at Plastic, we’re incredibly excited about the potential and have shared below what we think AI can mean for brands across healthcare, retail, and banking.

Healthcare:
Healthcare is one of the most ethically sensitive markets, which means that before any AI technology becomes a mainstay in the industry, it must first undergo a multitude of tests. Having digital caregivers may be a way to alleviate stress on overworked medical staffs, but we must first find a way to convince patients of their competence. To be successful, robotic doctors powered by AI don’t need to be perfect, they just need to be more reliable than human doctors. For the foreseeable future, there will always need to be a human buffer between the patient and machine, but this may change once acceptance levels rise.

AI is not ready to diagnose patients and replace medical workers at the present time, but it can be an effective tool for them to use. Currently, the team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston is using machine learning algorithms to help them better capture patients chief complaints and do rounds. The benefits of this are extra time, energy, and attention that they can now give to patients.

Retail:
From robotic personal shoppers to predictive shopping carts, AI lends itself nicely to retail. Brands such as AirBnB and Gilt Groupe have turned to AI to improve sales by utilizing preemptive shipping, anticipatory shipping, and dynamic pricing. It allows them to strengthen their predictions through customer buying habits and subjective habits. As well, The North Face has partnered with IBM Watson and Fluid to create a predictive shopping webpage, that makes suggestions based on how you interact with it. AI can give shoppers helpful, relevant, and intuitive product recommendations, and look like it will become a norm moving forward.

Banking:
Similarly to retail, financial services can benefit from AI by taking advantage of the vast amounts of data that track users online habits. By tracking a users’ habits, banks can personalize their experience to anticipate the individual users’ needs. This tracking serves dual purpose, as it can also learn the users’ tendencies, making it easier to detect outliers and reduce fraud.

Banks see the opportunities presented by AI, and have been investing in it as a result. Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that the AI industry will be valued at $70bn by 2020. Last month, Royal Bank of Scotland debuted Luvo, an AI system that can help call-center staff answer customer questions more efficiently. As well, Barclays and Goldman Sachs are looking into how they can utilize virtual assistants and machine-learning, respectively.

From the Terminator, to The Matrix, to Ex Machina, there has never been a shortage of pop culture references to Artificial Intelligence. Whether it is out of fear or curiosity, it is a subject matter that has captivated Homo Sapiens, and even predates the first known reference to “Artificial Intelligence.” With projects like DeepMind from IBM, Siri from Apple, and M from Facebook, we may already be living in the dystopian future that has been hypothesized for decades. To help you better understand AI, we have created this helpful infographic to bring you up to speed.

If you like what you read here, be sure to check out our Spring 2016 Mobile X Report, which goes into more depth on AI, as well as many other mobile trends that you need to know about right now!

 

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With all the biggest tech companies looking to the future for their next breakthrough, the R&D team at Plastic thought it was time to think differently and look backwards for inspiration. This is why we have decided to revolutionize the mobile app space, by now offering the development of mobile apps for flip phones. The smartphone is so 2015 anyways.

Introducing “FlipApps,” an innovative-bespoke-artisinal platform from Plastic Mobile that lets you enjoy the apps of today with the phones of yesteryear. At Plastic, we pride ourselves on our ability to anticipate trends, which is why we believe now is the perfect time to go all-in on the flip phone market before it becomes “too mainstream.” Right now everything retro is making a comeback: Record Players, N64, Black & White Photography, Polaroid Cameras, and Typewriters; and with Hipster culture on the rise, the flip phone revolution is inevitable.

Our client’s took a little bit of convincing when we first pitched them the idea, but we assured them that they would hate themselves once they realized they were on the wrong side of mobile history. The flip phone truly is a twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

We have 100% buy-in from all our divisions at Plastic. Our developers have been hard at work learning to code in T9. Our Designers have been hard at work trying to optimize apps for one-inch screens. Our QA team have been hard at work rummaging through thrift shops to see where they can find test devices.

Why flip phones you ask? With the practicality of these devices, this once global phenomenon is poised to make a comeback. Remember how indestructible your old clam-shell phone was? Or how many days your phone could last on one charge? Remember the days before butt-dialing, and how your office couldn’t reach you at all times. How could you not think that this deserves a comeback?

Old-School is New-School with “FlipApps” from Plastic Mobile.

If you or anyone else you know would be interested in being a part of the flip phone app revolution, please feel free to contact us at thisisnotanaprilfoolsprank@plasticmobile.com.

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Cartier is no stranger to the importance of optimizing mobile involvement with their products, and the launch of their Clé de Cartier line of watches is no exception. In hopes of creating optimal buzz for their new product line, the French jewelry brand took to the mobile homepage of Conde Nast’s Architectural Digest to make this happen.

Recently, our President and COO Melody Adhami shared her insights on Cartier’s decision to target Architectural Digest’s Mobile site with Luxury Daily.

“With a price tag ranging between $8,000 to $100,000 or more for the new Clé de Cartier, Cartier is catering to the affluent clientele who has a keen eye for unique and iconic design, which likely corresponds with Architectural Digest readership.”

In this day and age, a brand’s awareness via mobile platforms has become exceedingly more important. “You have to account for a mobile audience when planning a product launch, since a large portion of readers access news and articles via their smartphones,” Adhami adds.

To see the article in full, and for more of Melody’s insights, check it out here!

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In this edition of Plastic’s Mobile X Report, the Research and Development team dug deep into the world of mobile to provide the freshest news and trends currently creating buzz in the industry.

Here’s a quick rundown on the “Big 3″ topics you can look forward to in this edition:

Announcements made at Apple’s “Loop You In” Event
Apple always creates quite the splash in the industry with their events, and their March 21st event was no different, so we have rounded up the 6 things that you need to know from the event that can help satiate your inner Apple fanboy. See page 8 for more!

Smartphone Accessories:
One noticeable trend from MWC and CES this year is that Mobile Hardware companies have been putting a new spin on smartphone accessories. From the Samsung Gear VR, to Sony’s “Friends,” and the LG 360 Camera, our future is leaning towards a much more interactive and less hands-on world, and can be found on page 12.

Artificial Intelligence:
With the valuing of Artificial Intelligence currently t #126.24B, and reaching an estimated $3, 061.35B by the end of 2020, AI looks to play an important role in a wide array of industries. That being said, it is vital to understand what type of practical roles it will play as an enterprise business solution moving forward. Our crash course in AI can be found on page 17.

Like what you see in this post and want to read more? View the full report here!

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Regardless of your role or industry – undoubtedly, innovation is important to you in your day-to-day. There are many ways to introduce and maintain the mindset of innovation within your organization – one being the introduction of spaces that facilitate the approach and execution required to be truly inventive.

In our almost decade of experience, we’ve played around with many different types of spaces to see what works best. What drives the culture of innovation? What promotes collaboration? What setup builds better products? Well, since you’ve asked:

Usabilty Labs
If UX is important to you, you NEED a usability lab. This distractionless room is configured to help you test and observe users as they interact with prototypes of your apps. A usability lab lets you conduct user testing to collect real-time feedback and make any necessary adjustments. It is great for quick-win fail-fast scenarios since you can see right away which features resonate most with potential users.

Focus Group Labs
This type of lab is utilized by both branding and research teams to stage focus groups led by moderators. It is similar to the usability lab in that you are able to receive impactful consumer feedback, but it also allows the consumers to talk through their thoughts and ideas with others. These labs allow your team to conduct qualitative primary research that can be used to measure the perceptions surrounding your apps.

Innovation Labs
We have mentioned this before, but technology is advancing at an exponential rate, and to combat this, your business must stay innovative to set itself up for success. These digital playgrounds come in all shapes and sizes, and are used to test new technologies and concepts, keeping your work fresh and cutting edge. Having an open door policy encourages all members of the team to contribute & collaborate closely.

Collaborative Workspaces
Having an open concept office, with relatively fluid seating arrangments, can be a great way to stimulate communication and collaboration within your team. As well, with an increasing number of brands looking to colocate their teams, it gives you the flexibility to accommodate them and seat them next to their appropriate counterparts.

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Think back to the last app you downloaded for a brand you knew, how did you come to find it, and what was it that made you want to download it? Did you find it while browsing an app store? Did you have it recommended to you by a friend? Or did you see an ad for it in-store or on their website? These methods all may seem like luck, but the skilled mobile app marketers behind these brands are now using tricks to help increase downloads for their apps. Since browsing app stores is still the number one way apps are discovered, it is important to pay attention to how you rank in them. This process is referred to as App Store Optimization (ASO) and is basically SEO for app stores. A good ASO strategy can help optimize an app’s ranking in app stores, increasing visibility, and hopefully more downloads.

So what do you need to know to ensure your brand is being positioned correctly?

1) Defining Objectives
The first thing you must do is create a list of measurable ASO objectives that you can track. Examples of these goals could be:

  • Can my app be easily found in app stores by my customers?
  • Does my app rank higher in app stores than my competitors?
  • How high does my app rank in app stores for specific keywords?

2) Keyword Optimization
All too often developers wait until the 11th hour to pick keywords and write descriptions, but their importance cannot be understated.

  • Think of how consumers would search for your brand and use solutions such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends to decide on the ones with the most return
  • Use A/B testing to try out different combinations of keywords, and use platforms (Google Analytics, App Annie) to see which ones are most relevant for your brand
  • Localizing your keywords for multiple regions/languages (if applicable to your brand) is another great way to ensure your brand’s app is getting discovered by the highest percentage of possible customers

3) Asset Optimization
The asset on your app store page has minimal effect on your likelihood of being searched, but it can still increase how likely someone is to download your app.

App Icon: This is the first thing most people notice when scrolling through the app store, which means that to convince them to click on it it must be enticing, yet simple enough to convey your brand and what your app is offering.

App Description: Here you are trying to appeal to a human, rather than an algorithm, so make sure it lets the customer know why they should download your app.

Screenshots/Video: Your first two screenshots should be the most impactful since they are the ones that a potential user will see first. Videos are also great because they allow you to get more creative, since they allow you to go beyond in-app footage to express your brand’s offering. They are also important, because they reside at the top of the page and more people are likely to click the video then read the full description.

4) Ratings & Reviews
Downloads and ratings & reviews also play a large role in ASO, but are mostly out of your control. However, creating in-app prompts for users to rate & review, could be one way to improve this. As well, promoting your app through all advertising channels such as in-store, web, paid, and social media is another way to drive traffic to your page in the app store.

Another important fact to remember is that ASO takes time because it is still an inexact science. You have to commit to tracking your ASO plan, while also paying attention to what your competitors are doing. But if you feel your brand’s app is not reaching its full potential, and can afford to put in the time and effort, ASO is a great way to see a dramatic improvement in downloads.

Miu Miu

For many of our more mobile-minded readers, Miu Miu (pronounced mew-mew), may be a bit of an unknown. But this offshoot of Italian fashion house Prada is now attempting to generate some buzz on the heels of Milan Fashion Week through the creation of a mobile app. Our VP of Operations & Client Services (and resident fashion expert!) Maggie Adhami-Boynton, shared her insights on the Miu Miusic app with Luxury Daily.

The app, which launched yesterday for iOS, Android, and Microsoft devices, allows users to mix exclusive musical tracks with images or “moods” to create their own videos, which Miu Miu hopes will promote sharing via social channels. “The link between music and fashion is an obvious one, but by integrating the two into an app Miu Miu is most likely looking to capitalize on novelty and intrigue,” Maggie added.

“For the app to succeed beyond just brand awareness, Miu Miu will need to capitalize on the increased social media impressions that it looks to gain this week, by creating conversations and finding ways to turn the impression into sales.” Maggie warns. The limited functionality of the app really makes the first week after launch extremely important for the brand. It will be interesting to see if the Miu Miusic app gains traction from consumers, and encourages other brands to look into creating “abstract” mobile apps which are targeted at generating brand awareness and exposure.

If you would like to see more of the article, head over to Luxury Daily for the rest of Maggie’s insights.

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With commercial mobile apps almost becoming a requisite for businesses in 2016, many organizations have begun to establish a Mobile Center of Excellence. An MCoE is an internal facility/team that provides research, best practices, support, training, and delivery for an enterprise’s mobile solutions and initiatives.

Why large organizations are investing in establishing an MCoE:

1) Accelerating the time to market and increasing velocity for their mobile solution
2) Reducing the risk when developing a mobile strategy
3) Reducing costs

This all sounds well and nice, but how does your organization decide whether or not an MCoE is necessary, and how do you go about creating one? Establishing an MCoE is necessary, both from financial and human resource standpoints, which means that the decision must not be made lightly. If you are a medium- to large-scale organization who relies moderately to heavily on mobile, an MCoE may make sense for you. If you are not, then you stand the risk of having the return not justify the investment.

For most organizations, mobile is a set of segmented projects with minimal central organization. Developing an MCoE instills consistency and velocity by bringing all necessary stakeholders together and creating an aligned strategy. The MCoE team becomes the internal authority on mobile, and can facilitate the training of the other departments when necessary.

Once you have come to the decision that establishing an MCoE is right for your business, there are a number of steps to building a successful MCoE. Here are some quick considerations of the most important stages:

  • Create a charter to define the scope of the MCoE
  • Utilize peer to peer training and knowledge transfer
  • Identify current assets that can be leveraged (ie. documentations, tools, personnel)
  • Define the mission, vision, technical standard and policies of the MCoE
  • Develop a detailed set of supporting documentation complete with budget, timelines, and resources
  • Develop software architecture
  • Outline back office control and administration of applications and supporting infrastructure
  • Implement the solutions and deliver projects

The success of an MCoE is dependent on a number of variables, yet what it hinges on is the creation of a knowledgeable and accomplished team. Since mobile is a relatively new endeavor for many organizations, their internal resources may not be sufficient. This is where the knowledge and experience of a partner can be extremely beneficial to facilitate the development of an MCoE through a calculated knowledge transfer partnership and creating internal environments that are proficient in everything mobile.

If you would like to learn more about our approach to establishing a Mobile center of Excellence, please feel free to contact us here.

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Only six months removed from it’s rebranding, Alphabet a.k.a. Google’s corporate alias, has surpassed Apple as the most valuable publicly-traded company in the world. The trading of places was a result of a tale of two Q4′s with Alphabet rising and Apple regressing. Google was able to ride their strong fourth quarter ($21.3 billion in revenue) to a market cap of $558 billion, slightly ahead of Apple’s $535 billion.

Plastic is proud to have a long-standing relationship with Google and has even been named one of two featured mobile partners for Google’s Cloud Platform. Google Cloud Platform allows developers to build, test, and deploy their apps on Google’s infrastructure. Plastic takes advantage of Google Cloud Platform for many of our clients’ applications, through such features as their app engine, API’s, cloud storage, datastore, among others.

We congratulate Alphabet/Google on their new title as world’s most valuable company, and look forward to our continued relationship.

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When you think of the intersection of alcohol and mobile, what comes to mind? Possibly an app on your phone that helps you mix cocktails, a regrettable text that you sent after a night of drinking, or a gimmicky breathalyzer app. But the world of alcohol is much more technologically inclined than you may have thought. Last year alone, over $100 million was invested in alcohol-related startups with the majority of ventures focused on ways to develop on-demand delivery services. Furthermore, wine shipped directly to the consumer was valued at $1.82 billion by Ship Compliant. With all of this growth in the alcohol and tech market, we take an in-depth look at how it is being impacted by mobile.

In-Store Delivery Apps
To avoid having to go through all the red tape that comes with at-home delivery, many retailers have taken to in-store delivery to ease into ecommerce. Some retailers have found success creating their own solutions, while smaller retailers have turned to third-party apps, such as Drync, to support their online selling. Both options allow consumers to purchase online and pick up in-store to avoid shipping costs, and pick up their orders at their convenience.

On-Demand Delivery
Although delivery on-demand services have exploded recently with everything from food to puppies getting their own app, the alcohol market has lagged behind due to legal restrictions. However, more and more companies believe they have found ways to circumvent these limitations. Apps such Thirstie, Drizly, Klink, and Ultra have taken to this space to try and infuse ecommerce into the sector. The premise for most of the apps is to partner with retailers and either have trained employees go to the store, pick up  the alcohol, and then deliver it, or have the retailer deliver it themselves. The consumer’s age is verified by identification at the time of the purchase online, as well as at the time of the delivery. If the consumer is found to either be underage or intoxicated, they are denied their purchase and charged a restocking fee which varies by app. These apps are only available in a limited number of cities across North America right now, but are increasing rapidly as they gain more respect from local governments.

Retail Implications
With Technology starting to make more of an impact on the alcohol market, what does this mean for traditional brick and mortar retailers? Partnering with third-party deliver apps allows retailers to gain incremental revenue from new customers and piggyback on the newly created interest around alcohol delivery, but they must also weigh the challenges before making a decision. Firstly, they have to make sure that they are able to integrate the app with their current inventory on the backend. Secondly, they have to fully understand their local government’s regulations and see if they are able to comply with them. As well, the costs of staffing dedicated delivery personnel has to come into consideration. The jury is still out on the current state of alcohol delivery apps, but they are definitely making progress in a lucrative market. If a company finds a way to iron out all the kinks, they could stand to corner a market that has been highly segmented since its inception.

 

Enterprise Blog Image

When it comes to mobile apps for retailers, there are primarily two kinds: consumer-facing and enterprise. While consumer-facing apps may get all the glory and awards, enterprise apps are arguably just as beneficial. Developed to streamline business procedures and processes- from communications to administrative tasks, this results in not only an increase in sales, but when executed correctly, enterprise apps can increase productivity, leverage big data and optimize process efficiencies- justifying the investment.

The number of businesses developing internal apps is still lower than consumer-facing apps, but it is on the rise. While retailers often gravitate towards external facing apps, the irony is that even those who have seen success from their own consumer mobile solutions, have not looked into leveraging mobile internally. Currently 20% of all mobile developers globally are targeting enterprise solutions, which has risen from 16% just six months ago. Furthermore, a 2014 Apperian survey found that 53% of IT leaders had already begun developing enterprise apps to address their business needs.

Mobile enterprise solutions can have a wide array of benefits from increased revenue to increased efficiency that can be seen across a myriad of industries. Here are some of the specific benefits they can bring to retail:

  • Retail Employee: Use app to scan for inventory and locate a product or find additional product information to pass onto customers
  • Store Manager: Track the health of their store in real time, as well as manage employee schedules
  • Supply Chain: Gain access to more timely logistical information when they are in field

It is important to understand that solely buying mobile devices will not improve your business; there are a number of challenges to consider before investing in enterprise apps. It is important to undergo an analysis of your business operations and build a strategy to see which areas could benefit from the use of the mobile solutions. The apps need to solve real problems that your business is facing. It is also important that the app has a good user experience and that the employees are properly trained on how to use them. These apps are created to increase productivity, if the employees are having trouble using them, then they become worthless.

That being said, if the proper steps are taken by the retailer, there is a great opportunity for them to utilize mobile; not only to benefit their consumers, but to also improve their business operations.

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Being a buzzword, “Millennials” gets thrown around a lot, but do we as marketers truly understand this unique and intriguing demographic? Are we using the correct tactics to get through to them and access their buying power, or are we putting time and effort into fruitless efforts? To find out what impact this group has had on marketing, Havas Prosumer surveyed 10,574 people aged 16 and older in 29 markets worldwide. This research led to the development of the report “Hashtag Nation.” Marketers from all industries can benefit from reading this report because it highlights the trends of this very influential demographic.

Here are some interesting statistics findings from the report:

-60% of people aged 16-34 stated that brands play an important part in the creative content online
-92% of people aged 18-25 agreed that “It is very important to me that my parents trust me.”
-60% of respondents aged 16-34 agreed that “It makes me feel good when I see someone I admire using the same brand I use,” as compared to 38% of those 55+

To find out more about the millennial generation and how they interact with brands and marketing, check out the full Havas Prosumer report here.

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For most people the holidays have yet to begin, but this year at Plastic Mobile, they came early. While most businesses have a single holiday party, Plastic was spoiled with 3!

The festivities began last Thursday afternoon at our office building party, where we were treated to a buffet lunch and live band right outside our doors. Before we had even had time to digest our food, it was time to get ready for our second party of the day. After sneaking in a few last minute emails, we were off to a regal night of dinner and dancing for Havas’ holiday party. Not wanting the party to end once the music had ended, we did what anyone else would do ith their coworkers, and headed to a late-night Karaoke bar. After a number of group sing-alongs, we were finally ready to call it a night, because we knew the real fun was still to come tomorrow.

Coming into work after a late night is a lot easier when you know that there will be presents. So like young children eagerly running down the stairs on Christmas morning, Plastic employees staggered into work for the fabled Plastic gift reveal. Packed into the back boardroom, everyone eagerly awaited their gifts. Between the big screen TV, iPads, hoverboards, and drones, everyone was able to walk away a winner. The Holiday Party was able to put a wrap on another successful year at Plastic Mobile.

We went to wish everyone and their families a Joyful Holidays and a Happy New Year! See you in 2016!

Holiday Blog Image

With just under three weeks left until Christmas, the holiday shopping season is already in full swing, with mobile playing a huge part in all aspects of the consumer retail journey. In North America, mobile sales have outperformed projections during the all-important weekend from U.S. Thanksgiving, until Cyber Monday.

Singles Day
Unbeknownst to most Nort Americans, China’s Singles Day on November 11th, 2015 was the single largest online retail day in history. In fact, China’s largest online retailer, Alibaba, saw sales of over $14.3 billion, which was a 60% increase on their sales from the previous year. That is over five times the amount of money that is made during Cyber Monday in the U.S. The most surprising number however, was that 71% of Alibaba’s $14.3 billion had come from mobile devices. That is a huge increase from 2014 when only 43% of sales came via mobile.

Thanksgiving Day
American consumers spent $1.73 billion online, with 37% of revenue coming from mobile (22% smartphone& 15% tablet). However, mobile seemed to be the preferred method of browsing with between 48-57% of online shopping traffic coming from mobile devices.

Black Friday
Online revenue was up 16% from last year, with shoppers spending a total of $2.74 billion. Mobile spending was also up, and represented 33.2% of all online sales, which was up from 27% in 2014. Interestingly enough, an estimated 77.6% of all mobile orders came from Apple devices, continuing the trend that Apple users are willing to spend more online.

Cyber Monday
The aptly named Cyber Monday took the title for highest online sales ($3.07 billion), but came second to Black Friday in terms of mobile sales ($799 million vs. $905 million). this hit seems to be due to the fact that the retailers are expanding the length of their sales, and not limiting them to a 24-hour span. With that being said, this Cyber Monday was still the largest single sales day for online shopping in North American history.

Consumers are increasingly looking to the convenience of online and mobile shopping to escape the madness of malls during the holidays. With decreasing shipping times, better return policies, and shorter checkout times, the barriers to mobile shopping are disappearing. Unfortunately, not all retailers were fully prepared for the massive increase in online traffic that comes with holiday shopping. Neiman Marcus, Target, and PayPal all had bandwidth struggles over the weekend. Outside of these hiccups, retailers should take the numbers mentioned above as a positive sign, and look forward to a bountiful holiday season.

 

It’s a busy time for us here at Plastic, and it’s always exciting when we can see the fruits of our labor. This week has been particularly fun (and busy) because we have launched two amazing mobile initiatives alongside our clients, The Royal Bank of Canada and Student Price Card.

RBC Explores Mobile this Holiday Season
For the third consecutive year, RBC, has rolled out their Avion Holiday Boutique at malls across Canada to destress Avion cardholders while shopping this holiday season. This year, they wanted to do something a little different and teamed up with Plastic to Launch the Avion Passport App to bring aspects of the Avion experience to life through mobile. Through the app, RBC provides Avion cardholders with improved access to gift wrapping services as well as the ability to cash in on unique RBC Rewards offers.

Having been open for just under a week, the Avion Holiday Boutique has already seen thousands of shoppers visit and take advantage of all the services offered.

Building on the SPC Mobile Experience
Similarly looking to improve the consumer shopping experience through mobile, SPC Card launched the digital Student Price Card. “By giving students relevant offers based on their location, making redemption easy via the digital card, and adding personalized offers the SPC app is engaging millennials with an offering that is unique as the brand itself,” said Plastic’s own VP of Marketing, Salome Sallehy.

With over 15, 000+ locations prepared to accept the digital card, it becomes one of the largest mobile loyalty card activations currently in market.

For more information on these apps, or any other project Plastic is working on, feel free to reach out to us at contact@plasticmobile.com.

Mobile X Fall 2015 Cover

In the latest Mobile X Report, Plastics research and development team scoured the world of mobile to find the most interesting topics you need to know. While virtual and augmented reality was covered in the Summer edition, the Fall edition covers a wide array of topics ranging from the rise of vertical video to the mobile retail trends that we expect to emerge this holiday season.

Here is a sneak peek at some of the topics we cover in the report:

Mobile Influence
For what we have seen from the newest offerings of Apple, Google and Microsoft, other devices and channels are now taking a number of cues from mobile. Both developers and designers alike are looking to mobile for ideas on everything from design elements to functionality, with the goal to eventually provide a seamless transition across all devices. See page 9 for more!

The Sharing Economy
The sharing economy has been around for a while, but the proliferation of mobile has allowed it to grow at an unprecedented rate. The interconnectedness and convenience of mobile allows apps in the sharing economy to provide constant access to a seemingly endless network of goods and services at reduced prices, as explained on page 15!

Holiday Retail Trends
With the holiday retail season in North America just around the corner, we prime you for what is expected to be a busy time for mobile retail, on page 21.

Interested? Continue to read here.

 

 

Hello Media. (2)

In 1965, Gordon E. Moore, the co-founder of IBM, wrote a white paper observing that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every year. Moore went on to revise his hypothesis to every two years. Nowadays, technology taking two years to advance seems like a lifetime. Not a day goes by that we don’t hear about something new – and mobile is at the forefront of this innovation with a pioneering evolutionary curve. At a recent conference Sunny Byers, a Creative Account Executive at Google, shared that the future of mobile is changing every two weeks.

Every two weeks!

Top apps including Facebook, Pinterest, Etsy, and TripAdvisor are promising to update their apps every 2-6 weeks. In fact, the average cycle between updates for the top 25 iOS apps is around 30 days. Companies are moving away from the “ship when it’s done” attitude and towards a consistent cycle of short-term updates. If your organization has the capabilities, there are a number of benefits to switching to shorter update cycles. Pinterest moved to 3-week cycles last year, which has allowed the brand to test new ideas, jump on new opportunities and make tweaks to the app experience much more frequently.

So what does this all mean for brands and their mobile initiatives? If mobile is a primary channel for your business, it is vital to stress the importance of research and development, and invest in new technology and top talent.

But it’s not about R&D for the mere sake of it; the approach to research and development should be strategic in nature, pairing both technology and mobile behaviours to uncover opportunities that will result in value and convenience to the end user.

Take for example Remote Deposit, an app feature that allows users to easily deposit cheques to their bank accounts and is offered by almost every bank. The photo recognition software has been around for a number of years, but it was not until 2009 that USAA became the first bank to offer the service to its mobile customers. The bank recognized that the process of depositing a cheque was both a hassle and an inconvenience for the customers. Leveraging this insight, USAA invested a substantial amount of time and money into the development and implementation of an app feature- remote deposit- that offered convenience to the end user.

In other words, USAA didn’t wait for the technology to come to them but utilized existing capabilities with smart thinking – ultimately succeeding in a crowded marketplace and helping them maintain their impressive 98% retention rate.

Allow innovation to help solve problems and meet the needs of consumers – and gain a competitive advantage by being quicker to market.

For more information, please reach out to us at contact@plasticmobile.com.