Screen-Shot-2014-12-11-at-3.06.51-PM

The extremely popular social messaging app LINE, set up its first pop-up store in North America, located at 1515 Broadway in New York. LINE’s pop-up store will be open from December 9th until December 31st, offering shoppers a variety of products, including stationery, stuffed toys, mugs and jewelry based on the original characters from the app. Shoppers also get a chance to take photos and interact with LINE’s official mascots.

LINE has been very successful in Asia thus far and is now making a leap into the Global market, especially North America where a number of messaging apps like WhatsApp, and KIK  have found their glory. The messaging app currently enables users to make calls and send messages for free, as well as offers in app purchases of stickers featuring LINE’s own original characters.

Very few mobile-first brands have become popular enough to support a real-world presence one of the rarities being the Angry Birds game, which spawned a wealth of licensed merchandise, including stuffed toys and apparel. Sep Seyedi, CEO of Plastic Mobile discussed LINE’s pop-up store strategy with Mobile Commerce Daily noting that “Mobile-first businesses have an advantage in a heightened level of engagement with their customers that strictly brick and mortar business can attain,”

“Pop-up shops lend themselves perfectly to this opportunity, but we’ll be seeing more mobile-first businesses make permanent fixtures of themselves in brick and mortar going forward” Sep said.

Sep went on further to say, “mobile users are now ready to take these intimate relationships, with the businesses that serve them on mobile, to the next level and experience them in a more tangible manner.”

 

Wearables: Beyond The Wrist

By on December 12, 2014

Concept_image_2

The wearables market has quickly become one of the fastest growing mobile industries we’ve seen to date. From watches to fashionable bracelets it seems that everything needs to be smart in one way or another. Smart gear has been progressively moving beyond the wrist; check out the smart clothing line up for the new year:

Athos Apparel, founded by Dhananja Jayalath (DJ) and Christopher Wiebe, is a fitness shirt that monitors your biometrics in real-time then sends the stats from your workout to your smartphone. Using an EMG (electromyography) device that detects muscle effort, muscle building toning, overall training, and muscle fatigue. The device then relays this information to your smartphone companion app which translates it into readable data and training suggestions.

Another product that has been around for some time is the Nike+ shoe sensor. This little device was released in 2006 as an iPod accessory, a nugget sized device measures your pace, distance, time elapsed and calories burned, which is then transmitted to your iPhone or iPod via bluetooth. The data is then saved on the device which enables users to have easy access to their progress data.

Even Victoria Secret has dipped into the wearables market with their very own heart monitoring fitness bra which features Body-Wick fabric, paired with bonded, seamless technology for comfort. You would then detach the transmitter after use and connect it with your compatible device to retrieve the results.

These products now being dubbed Smart Clothing are changing the way we track our health by providing a comfortable and relatively accurate means of tracking our daily physical routines, and giving the term ‘self-awareness’ a whole new meaning.

The development of these new products is becoming more commonplace with just about anyone being able to create them with a basic technical skill set. A blogger named Kathryn Mcelroy wrote an in-depth tutorial on how to build your own interactive, RFID and LED messenger bag. The limitations of how far these technologies can advance are only set by the skill limitations of the creators!

 

Battle

Our President and COO Melody Adhami recently shared her expertise with Mobile Marketer’s  digital publication regarding Yahoo and how it is on it’s way to become the third largest mobile ad platform, and surpass Twitter. Data from eMarketer suggests that Yahoo’s new mobile ad business strategy may be paying off, Twitter is predicted to have 4.19 percent share of the mobile advertising market by 2016. The two platforms are very different in terms of audience and offerings; Yahoo’s mobile ad products include display, and native search whereas Twitter only offers native ad opportunities.

Twitter and Yahoo provide advertisers with vastly different opportunities for marketers planning their ad spend. “I would consider Yahoo to be a mass-media player with a broader reach of audience, and Twitter to be more of a niche player in the media space, the opportunities each company presents is vastly different. Marketers can expect to reach more users through Yahoo, but can expect more engagement from Twitter users.” Says Melody Adhami President and COO of Plastic Mobile.

Yahoo has been around from the early days of the internet, but has had a bit of a struggle remaining relevant, especially with the mobile space which has quickly taken off in the recent past. Yahoo’s biggest competitive advantage in the mobile space is it’s strong focus on digital content, this is due in part to the increasing popularity and convenience of mobile.

Although Twitter is much younger than Yahoo, it has been a mobile-first company since it burst onto the scene in 2006. It’s youth has also been a factor in the length and strength of the brand’s relationship with its users. “I think we can expect to see innovation from Twitter that will likely challenge the top 3 contenders sooner than later,” adds Melody Adhami. Which seems to be likely as Twitter has put a specific focus on building its mobile ad business.

mobilepayments conference

Mobile payments have finally begun to get the global attention they deserve thanks to the recent buzz created around the technology by Apple. Ernst & Young recently hosted a Breakfast Series at their Toronto office with many mobile payment industry experts present to shed light on past, current, and anticipated trends.

The all-star panel featured Almis Ledas, Sumit Oberoi, James McGuire, Christian Ali and was mediated by Aran Hamilton. All five panelist shared over 20 years of combined experience within the mobile industry and were unanimous on what the next steps were for mobile payments.

The panelist agreed that the mobile payment process must to be further integrated by retailers for users to feel like it’s worth the switch from physical cash or credit cards to mobile payments. Until then it could be a bit of a slow start, with the bolder user base ready and willing to switch right out of the gate, and the mass majority following thereafter once more retail chains have enabled the convenience, and people feel more comfortable with the security of their funds.  When questioned about whether or not the security of mobile payment would affect its adoption, Aran cited the first time he and his fellow panelists first used their Interac card and their skepticism around “Tap and Pay,”  and now there’s not even a second of hesitation.

adaptive-responsive-design-elements

APIs, Application Programming Interface, is not a new technology, in fact they have been around for a couple of decades. They are a set of protocols which dictate how software components should interact with each other. A good API allows a developer to build functions into a program easily and maintain fluidity, without risking operational issues.

A poorly constructed API can cause technical issues which can have serious implications on the overall experience, and ultimately the success of a project. Improperly organized data is one such consequence of a poorly constructed API as information being relayed between the systems can be mismatched or even misinterpreted.

Mobile apps and backend software are frequently updated and maintained as more users pile on to the system or when new features are added. Thus any errors during the maintenance can affect the performance of the app or the backend servers. This causes a disconnect that results in one or both sides of the app unable to exchange information, inevitably resulting in crashes until the error is found and resolved.

In addition, app developers should also be aware of potential attacks on their API’s. A DDoS attack, or Distributed Denial of Service, occurs when a server is bombarded by multiple requests, which floods the system. Imagine five people trying to call you at the same time, none of the five people will be able to reach you due to the high call traffic. If an app has too many calls to the server like those in a DDoS attack it can drastically slow down the performance of the app and even crash it. The preventative measure against a DDoS is usually limiting the amount of calls an app can receive in each function and building the API’s to serve up the data required. This relates back to the point emphasized earlier about data organization.

A strong app strategy depends on the performance of an app. An app that crashes or has technical issues in its basic core functions can lead the user to quickly abandon and delete the app from their device. The strength of an app lies partially in its robust API’s and these should be among the first priorities being evaluated when building an app.

Mobile Cyber Monday

By on December 02, 2014

MobilePhone

Capping off what could be considered “Cyber Week” – Cyber Monday was the proverbial icing on the holiday shopping cake – becoming the biggest day in US online shopping history! According to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark mobile devices held their own with 41.2 percent of all online traffic which makes it the first time mobile has driven almost half of all online traffic during the course of “Cyber Week” pandemonium. Retailers took advantage of mobile’s direct connection between consumer and retailer maximizing the 5 days of shopping discounts and deals to directly engage their customers via email marketing. By making deals and promotions more accessible through properly targeted emails, sending immediate email notifications for abandoned carts and pushing post checkout deals, retailers have gotten a tiny taste of the full power and potential of mobile.

What is interesting about these last 5 days of shopping mayhem?  There is an obvious shift in consumer behaviour, with easily accessible information from multiple channels, shoppers are making more calculated shopping choices.  There is no longer pressure to succumb to rushing the shopping experience, cramming it all into one day of deal hunting. Places like the UK where 50 percent of retailers embraced Black Friday deals – compared to last years 15 percent – and Canada, where an estimated average of 2 million people took vacation days surrounding the American shopping bonanza, have welcomed Black Friday and Cyber Monday traditions in order to get their piece of the pie. This past November China famously celebrated its “Cyber Monday” with Singles Day, the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba saw a jaw-dropping $9 billion in sales in one day, this in turn has translated to conscious shoppers aware of their options, making strategic purchases, equipped with the right tools to source the best deals, and biggest discounts.

Three years ago only 17 percent of purchases were touched or influenced by digital platforms, now that amount has skyrocketed to 50 percent. What we are seeing now is a constant growing demand from consumers to have multi-channel retail access of both online and traditional brick and mortar stores to get what they need when they need it. This will mean that as more and more retailers find a happy medium between physical and online stores, the demand for appealing user-centric web design and responsive web will surely follow.

 

Untitled-25

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” It’s not quite Christmas yet, however Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday are giving Christmas a run for it’s money when it comes to the battle of the holiday shopping experience.  This year saw a decent increase in revenue for retailers in contrast to 2013, especially online mobile and tablet shopping.  According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark report for the annual shopping mayhem event, Thanksgiving and Black Friday mobile and tablet traffic accounted for about 52.1 percent of all online browsing.  What was once thought to be an idle pastime, is now disrupting the market, quickly being adopted by a vast majority of consumers, 1 in 4 of all online purchases were made with a mobile device with most of those devices being Apple, a whopping 76.8 percent to be exact, and only 22.7 percent from Android users.

The shift in mobile browsing and sales can partly be attributed to convenience, the IBM Benchmark report indicates that shoppers are spending slightly less per order than last year, thanks to mobile shopping’s advantages.  Customers use their mobile devices to comparison shop and source out the best possible deals, using a combination of coupons and extra promotions; Thanksgiving and Black Friday shoppers definitely brought their A game this year and demonstrated just how savvy they are, with a little help from their mobile friend of course.  Even though mobile sales contributed a decent chunk of revenue to Black Friday with 28 percent of total online sales, the tablet is not to be forgotten. While more people definitely browse on mobile for it’s obvious convenience factor, the report suggests that people purchase more through their tablet with the average tablet shopper spending $126.50 per order versus mobile’s $107.55 per order.

The IBM report goes on to say that the most effective tool for retailers when it comes to driving Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales home, is less frequent, well targeted, email marketing.  In order to not turn off customers with spam, a bombardment of advertisements and promotions, retailers need to learn their customers well using indicative data, and properly channel their yearly ad spend to work more efficiently for them and return their investment.

luxury_daily_banner

Recently our very own Vice President of Marketing and Business Development – Salome Sallehy – sat down with Luxury Daily to discuss Harry Winston’s new mobile Secrets ad campaign on Harper’s Bazaar digital publication.  The ad used the “screen takeover” technique, covering the home page of Harper’s Bazaar, Salome sheds some light on why this approach is effective when executed correctly.

Harper’s Bazaar  is a glamour content destination for a wide range of readers including the affluent Gen X and Y’s”  Salome said.  “The screen takeover ads are effective in that they don’t get missed, but are usually experienced on the other ends of the spectrum; the mobile user is either really annoyed, or really delighted, depending on context and relevance.”  She added.

The Harry Winston Secrets ad features a film, where the consumer is led through a large empty home, into a secret door that looks like a mirror.  The concept was that each piece in the collection had a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, hence the “Secrets” campaign.

Salome shared her insights, and expertise stating “in this case, the context is very fitting in that the content is aligned with what the mobile user is already discovering, so there’s a good chance they won’t be annoyed.  However, when a mobile experience is disrupted with something unexpected, the user is more likely to have a positive reaction if they feel that the content being presented is relevant and exclusive to them.”

Screen takeovers, when applied in the right context can actually be pretty useful, especially around the holiday season when shoppers are looking for that special gift. The ads allow for you to be a part of an exclusive deal that is likely only available for a limited time, without detouring you from the original website you intended to view.

“Since Harry Winston doesn’t engage in ecommerce, their mobile marketing efforts are to drive traffic to the stores and partner retailers and that’s a pretty tall order for a mobile ad if the user isn’t encouraged to get better acquainted before the trip.”

Tweet us your thoughts! Would you be annoyed or delighted if you went to your online shopping destination, and a screen takeover ad informed you about a feature, or deal? @plasticmobile

 

Mel-roundtable

There’s no denying the impact mobile has had on the customer journey. What was once a linear journey with clear start and end points, is now cyclical. Mobile has blurred the lines between the pre- and post-shopping stages and is giving brands the opportunity to constantly stay connected with their customers, and vice versa.

While most brands are understanding the importance of going mobile, by way of web and/or apps, there is still a gap between how mobile technology can be leveraged at each point in the customer journey (the pre-, in-store, and post-shopping stages) to drive brand engagement and in-store traffic.

Pre-Shopping Stage

Ask yourself: Have you ever researched a product on your mobile device? Whether it’s through a mobile site or app, chances are you have. And you’re not alone: Almost 60 percent of mobile users use their devices to research a product before purchasing. That’s one of the beauties about mobile: it has empowered customers to take control of their shopping experience by giving them the ability to research and discover the products available to them.

That’s why the pre-shopping stage is so critical to brands; it’s the perfect opportunity to connect with customers and stay top-of-mind. One key way of achieving this is via push notifications. Push notifications are a great vehicle to generate awareness in regards to promotions, coupons, new product releases, and even marketing campaigns. A recent study by Urban Airship has found that when used correctly, push notifications can increase response rate by over 300 percent.

With push notifications, brands can get the user’s attention even if they were not thinking about shopping. However, having a push notification strategy doesn’t mean quantifying the number of messages you send, rather it should focus on delivering quality notifications.

In-Store Stage

More and more mobile users are utilizing their devices in-store to access pertinent information that can help them with their purchase decisions. Need proof? Nearly 85% of mobile users use their device in-store to do everything from price comparisons, to reading reviews. That’s why it is critical that brands stay one step ahead of customers by providing the key information that customers will be looking for when in-store.

Mobile technology has made it so the user interface can change, depending on a user’s location. For example, once in-store, the features and functionalities that are more relevant and timely for users can be displayed to encourage fast access to information. One great example of a brand deploying such a tactic is Apple.

Mobile apps are also a great channel to provide customers with added conveniences. Time-saving features such as mobile coupons, digital cards and wallets has not only made shopping a faster and more efficient process, but can improve a customer’s experience with the brand. You need to look no further than Starbucks for an example of a brand that has mastered this from start to finish. The ease at which users can purchase Starbucks products in-store is a testament to their mobile strategy aimed at giving users a convenient experience.

Post-Shopping Stage

The customer’s journey no longer ends when a user completes a purchase; in some ways, it’s the start of a re-engagement strategy that has brands continuing the conversation with customers to drive them back to the brand.

One such strategy that can be leveraged via mobile technology are time-based offers. Time-based offers are a great way to give users with a sense of urgency to come back and make a purchase. Rewards strategies are also efficient in driving engagement with brands. For example, giving users a credit off their next purchase (ie. percent off, or dollars off) is a great tactic to encourage customers to re-engage with a brand.

Final Word..

There are a multitude of opportunities and technologies that retailers can take advantage of through mobile. The key is to understand customers shopping behaviours in order to continue engaging with shoppers even after the purchase has been made.

mobile_marketer_Banner2

The Mobile Marketer Mobile Women to Watch Summit honors 25 of the greatest women executives each year who are set to make an impact in mobile marketing, advertising, media, and commerce. The 2015 Mobile Women to Watch Summit in New York, taking place today is recognizing Plastic Mobile’s Co-founder, COO & President, Melody Adhami, for leading some of biggest brands of our time into the Mobile Age.

“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized as a “major influencer” in mobile amongst hundred of other exceptional women. Having lived the astounding transformations that the mobile industry has gone through in such a short time, and having had the opportunity to shape some of those shifts has been incredible.” stated Melody Adhami.

With her 7 year journey of mobile experience, and having started out as one of the few women executives within the industry, Melody Adhami has proven that the technology space is equally exciting and prosperous for both men and women. Much like her peers also recognized by Mobile Marketer, Melody shares the ambition and dedication to revolutionize the way brands interact with their customers on mobile by facilitating the relationship with mobile technology.