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.

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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.

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Every so often you see those pesky red circles clinging on to the corners of the apps on your mobile device that remind you of the pending app updates designed to introduce changes and enhance your mobile experience so you keep coming back for more. Between short attention spans and an overabundance of stimuli brands are fighting to continuously engage their mobile app users. Hence, the ever-present red circles silently promising improvements in usability, speed, and performance. I won’t even mention bug-fixes. I mean, it’s almost 2015…bugs are the unmentionables. With QA flags flying high who has bugs any more?

Speaking of ‘almost 2015’…Most brands, even our beloved mobile laggard dinosaur brands, are on their second – if not fourth or fifth – iterations of apps. While the reconstructing and redesigning process begs the inclusion of new features and functions, it’s equally important to analyse users’ behaviour, based on all those prioritized metrics and data points that you obviously built into the app to measure right at the outset, to adjust the user experience and deliver more of what the users actually want and less of what they don’t.

With innovative practices pushing the boundaries of what’s possible at an unprecedented rate, and new technologies and applications being introduced at an equally astounding rate, one must pause…and plan. For example, beacons and Bluetooth Low Energy paired with some of Apple’s new features in iOS as well as Android’s new Lollipop OS can provide brands with new opportunities to introduce a more personalized interactive experience with their customers.

When creating the new versions of their apps, brands may often find themselves in technical debt by focusing primarily on getting a product to the App Stores rather than developing a user-worthy product. By sacrificing functionality and user experience, the product then requires revisions that ultimately cost more time and money by extending the product development cycle.

In addition to technical considerations while developing the next generation of a mobile app experience, the users’ level of comfort with, and preferences for types of feature must also be considered for alternate options, validated by AB testing. If the current version of the app houses dated features that a small portion of the user base is interacting with it, it may prove worthwhile to eliminate the feature as a whole.

Technology is providing new ways for brands to interact with consumers. As new device capabilities are introduced, users’ are adopting new behaviours more readily. But staying on top of technology is no longer sufficient to keep brands ahead of the curve. The current rate of change requires technologists to anticipate behaviour, needs and wants of users in order to let brands retain that coveted spot on customers’ mobile device.

 

The world of Android just got a little bit sweeter. The OS previously dubbed “Android L” now has a full name and full list of features and a brand new design for the popular Android platform.  Android Lollipop boasts a whole new set of features previously unseen on mobile devices all aimed at enhancing the user experience. A full list of them can be found on the official page, but here some of the key ones that stood out to us.

  • Users can create multiple users for a device, allowing users to share a device without sharing their files and apps as well. Google claims that this is a great feature for devices that are shared among family members.
  • Screen pinning allows users to pin a screen so another user can access just that content without messing with other apps or files.
  • ART, a new runtime that improves a user’s apps performance.
  • “Tap & Go Setup”  Users can set up a new Android device by simply tapping it to their old one (requires NFC which most devices are equipped with).
  • Better battery life management adds an estimated 90 minutes of life to your device.

And of course all the features are wrapped up in Material Design, Google’s new design methodology for their operating systems and applications. Material design is centered around building clean interfaces that are stylish, intuitive, and responsive to the user. Some Google apps have already made the switch to material design and the first batch of reviews cast a positive light on the mobile OS. Android Lollipop brings a whole new look and feel for Android, one that aims to unite the user with the device. Nice work Google!

The Internet of Things

By on October 24, 2014

You’ve probably heard this term tossed around in casual conversation or in an article about emerging technology. In essence the Internet of Things (IoT)  is a system of various sensors and devices all linked together to process or gather information. The linking of these devices doesn’t have to be over the internet either, it could be via radio waves or a local wireless network disconnected from the internet.

To most the internet is a network they can use to gather information from easily. To the more tech savvy it’s a connection of computers talking to each other to accomplish their user’s (humans) end goals. The internet at its core is a means to communicate with each other. The Internet of Things is basically taking this existing network framework and using it to collect data and organize it.

So the next question is; what are the “Things” in the Internet of Things? Simply put a “Thing” could be any object that is connected to an electrical power source. It could be a heart monitor, a motion sensor, or even a toaster. Yes, even a toaster can join the IoT and someone has already joined the two together. Granted this toaster serves little purpose in the real world, but it shows perfectly how the IoT functions in  a very entertaining way. Basically when Trevor – the user – pushes the lever down on his toaster to start the toasting process the toaster sends a tweet letting the world know it has started toasting. When it’s done it sends another tweet to let everyone know that the toasting has been completed. You can see a record of toast on  the toaster’s twitter profile.

That’s the basic function of the Internet of Things the communication and gathering/analyzing of real world events and broadcasting them to be analysed and organized by another computer or person. Now that the technology to create or make anything into a wireless devices is readily available, just about anything can become an “internet thing.” The IoT is fundamentally changing how we can collect and analyze data and its just getting started.

Plastic Mobile’s CEO Sep Seyedi, and Creative Director Jason Hyde sat down with Rob Woodbridge of Untether.tv to discuss Plastic’s Mobile Innovation Lab as well as updates in the world of mobile devices and how Plastic has helped the mobile space grow since the last interview three years ago.

All leading to the question of how the Innovation Lab has been helping brands keep ahead of trends in technology. The Lab as Jason describes it is “a place where our creative team and our hardware and software engineers can play together and come up with new things and experiences.” It’s a place that allows Plastic to create and develop new technologies, or a new application of existing technologies to benefit present and future clients.

The trio then discussed Hyphen, Plastic’s newest BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) touchless payment and loyalty device, which allows retailers to accept payments and provide offers over BLE through existing (and old) POS systems. Hyphen requires minimal integration and with the advent of mobile wallets it has a wide range of uses, including capturing customer data. Coupled with bluetooth low energy technology, Hyphen can provide a variety of functions very easily.

Before Sep and Jason sign off they discuss wearables and the idea of creating a seamless connection between the user and their environment all while creating meaningful engagement with them. Sep goes on to share his excitement for more development of the Internet of Things (IoT) as the ability to make just about anything a smart device is not only just awesome, but interesting to imagine what kind of interactions can be formed around them.

Check out the full interview.

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French fashion brand, Le Monde D’Hermès, teamed up with Mrzyk and Moriceau for its fall-winter 2014 digital magazine edition. The app features many interactive and animated features designed by the artistic duo to portray a more fun and whimsical content experience.

Plastic’s COO & President, Melody Adhami, had a chance to play with the app and comment on the design and strategy with Luxury Daily and said “It is refreshing! Mobile users interact with plenty of apps daily with similar UI designs. Having a UI such as the Hermès app certainly stands out and creates a memorable experience.”

The article states that the app doesn’t showcase the brand’s apparel, however it does create a unique user experience. Users can interact with each shape on the screen which leads them to a new magazine page with more animations.

Despite the unique approach to launching its fall-winter magazine edition, Melody noted that “While the cartoons may be aimed at captivating the younger, and more mobile savvy demographic, it may be a little confusing for the rest of the brand’s following.”

As a consumer, does the Le Monde D’Hermès app entice you into purchasing their magazine? Tweet us @plasticmobile

 

Apple Reveals More

By on October 17, 2014

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Yesterday Apple unveiled some details about their products for the coming year. First on the agenda; iPhone 6 & 6 Plus release statistics. We’re not surprised to find that Apple has pulled off the biggest launch of their phones this year making record sales and deliveries worldwide. Speaking of world wide, 32 countries are iPhone enabled with China set to get the next batch of fresh iPhones. Overall Apple said that the response and demand was surprising and they’re glad their frontline employees handled the demand extremely well.

CEO Tim Cook proceeded to talk about Apple Pay next saying that the anticipated contactless mobile payment service will be available in the upcoming iOS 8.1 update scheduled to land on Monday, the 20th of October. Tim also revealed an additional 500 banks have signed on to Apple Pay in addition to all the US banks and credit card providers. And in one last surprise, Apple Pay can be used in-app and online on the web effectively enabling a one stop payment function to any mobile purchase. This will certainly be a pay-game changer!

Another reveal was the release of OS X Yosemite, a new Mac and iPad mini 3 with retina display-the usual things we’ve come to expect from the smart device giant. Yosemite features a whole new design that matches iOS 8, and comes with the ability to make SMS and regular phone calls. This might annoy some of the telecoms, just a bit. Craig Federighi, the VP of Software Engineering showed off the calling feature with a conversation with Stephen Colbert who before hanging up told Craig to get back to work on Apple Watch because “You know what I see when I look at my wrist?…My wrist!” Before signing off Craig said that Yosemite is now available for download, and it’s 100% free.

Overall the event served as an in-depth look at their new releases and upcoming products. Although the announcements of the new iPads felt a little flat the promise of Apple Pay and new features for the ever growing family of devices Apple has begun to offer show that they’re still able to offer a wide range of services across an even wider range of devices.

PS: If you missed out on the live keynote you can find the recorded version on Apple’s website.

Beacon Etiquette

By on October 16, 2014

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With great power comes great responsibility. As cliche as that sounds its very accurate when it comes to beacons. Beacons have the ability to target a wide range of mobile devices within its proximity as well as provide marketers with a great deal of consumer information and interaction. However depending on how well they use this technology, they can end up making users feel bombarded by advertisements.

In a recent study by InMarket, users that were aggressively targeted with notifications stopped using the app. The research then shifted to targeting with notifications that aimed to engage users in more informative ways. Rather than message the user when they enter, they sent messages to them in specific contexts and delivered helpful messages to them. By delivering more contextually appropriate notifications relevant to the mobile moment which can be defined as the time and places a customer pulls out a mobile device to access vital information in context to the task at hand. Beacons proved to be more effective and achieved an increase of approximately 5 times more interactions.

The landscape of beacons right now can be compared easily to that of the early days of internet advertising. There’s a lot of experimentation and it is taking brands time to zero in on effective strategies as well as the software and hardware pairing that will yield the best results. Thus far the research has shown that beacons are better suited as an informational platform rather than the overused shopping messenger that has quickly become infamous. Yet the data-mining tools and capabilities within the beacon world have been underutilized.

 

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In most cases, consumers take the time to research before making a big purchase – cars, homes and a $45,000 camera included. With the growing rise of consumers turning to their mobile devices for research, Swedish camera brand Hasselblad, has taken the insights and opportunity to release a catalogue app that will provide customers with relevant product information.

Melody Adhami, Plastic’s very own COO & President, shared her industry insights with Luxury Daily on Hasselblad’s mobile strategy and described the app as “a great way to showcase their collection in lieu of a sales representative.” However, she believes that “there’s a lot more Hasselblad could have offered it’s mobile audience to drive engagement and retention.”

Melody cited that “Hasselblad will achieve success with the app by delivering sufficient education material and incorporating interactive touch points on the app.”

When asked about/questioned about the possibility of catalogue apps replacing traditional stores, she said that it had the potential, but “there will always be shoppers that prefer shopping in-store, those that want to be able to do everything via their mobile devices and others that will jump from one to another.”

Do you think catalogue apps can drive showrooms and physical retail spaces to extinction? Join the conversation by tweeting us @PlasticMobile.