Going Mobile

The focus on consumer experience has traditionally been centered on the in-store shopping experience. It then extended to ecommerce. Now, with the increasing use of digital – social media and mobility have become yet some more channels to engage with the consumer.

With multiple channels available to the consumer, retailers must extend their presence across all these channels – it is not an either/or. And this omni-channel presence must be seamless for the consumer, providing a consistent interaction with the brand. To build this omni-channel presence requires formulating a digital strategy that cuts across all these channels. One thread of the digital strategy that is gaining favour is mobility.

Graph 1The battle for consumer-spend revolves around the shopping experience. In the last two years, most international retailers have developed mobile-enabled apps for purchase with integrated payment solutions. A mobile shopping satisfaction study shows that while major retailers in the US claim they had a 90% customer satisfaction score on Black Monday 2012, user experience when shopping at Apple is very different from Walmart or Target or Kohl’s – notice the higher percentage of “Very Satisfactory” versus “Satisfactory” feedback.

Having an “app for that” is no longer a differentiator. While multiple factors such as range, availability, fulfillment and service among others are core to customer satisfaction, on the app front, the interaction with the consumer is most important. This is where app design plays a key role.

In designing the app, factors such as ease of use, navigation, load time, aesthetics and checkout experience must be taken into cognizance according to the profiles of consumers expected to use the app. A simplistic example being, users in the US or Europe using a 3G network would experience faster app response than would many users in India who use 2G. The app must account for that.

Vikram_Graph_2In the Indian context; adoption of mobile technology, specifically smartphones, has been much faster than global standards. There are currently 40 million smartphone users, with more than 50% aged under 25 (Source: Nielsen). Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), marketplace apps (OLX, Quickr), movie houses (PVR, INOX, Big Cinemas), retailers (FlipKart, Croma, Shoppers Stop), Banks (ICICI, HDFC, MoneyControl), customer feedback sites (Burrp, Zomato, TripAdvisor) have developed mobile applications, but user experience varies and is not tracked. As a surrogate, customer ratings at the Google Apps playstore are presented below.

Microsoft Word - RAI_Vikram Idnani_mobility solutions_v3 _2_It is interesting to note the rankings on shopping apps. While social apps have highest adoption, brick-and-mortar shopping apps lie at the other end of the spectrum. Satisfaction levels on shopping apps are not high either. It is worth noting that none of the top 10 apps in India are shopping apps. (http://www.thinkdigit.com/top-products/Apps/top-10-apps-126.php). In fact, all of the top 10 apps are either productivity or information-related apps.

What does this tell us?

  • That app usage for shopping in India is still dormant.
  • That the brick-and-mortar loyal customer is not necessarily a digital customer, i.e. having a strong brand in the physical space does not necessarily translate into loyalty in the digital space.

In conclusion, mobility is not just about building an ‘app for that’. It is about building the brand in the digital space separate from the physical space, and ensuring that the consumer experience is consistent and converges to a common message for the consumer.

In my next blog, I will share views, do’s and don’t’s and learnings from early adopters of mobile apps.


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Vikram Idnani
Vikram Idnani heads IT at Trent Ltd., a Tata enterprise, comprising Westside, Landmark and Star Bazaar retail chains. He is responsible for leading and implementing IT strategy. Idnani has 23 years of global experience, spanning 9 years in the US and the rest in India. Prior to joining Trent in 2006, he consulted for international Retail and Consumer Goods firms including Borders, Home Depot, K-Mart, PepsiCo and interned at JD Williams (UK). He has also worked with Airlines, Finance, Home Building and Healthcare industries. At Trent, Idnani has spearheaded SAP implementations at Westside and Landmark and is leading technology change through supply chain automation, retail store efficiency enhancement and initiatives in ecommerce, mobility and use of the cloud. He has led Westside and Star Bazaar's entry into open source Linux for their point-of-sale and Loyalty programs in 2008, the first such implementation for any retailer in India. Idnani possesses a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering from University of Mumbai. He is a British Chevening Scholar and has studied advanced information technology management at Manchester Business School. He believes that to be a credible technologist, one must first understand the business and what makes the customer tick. Technology is not the end; it is the means to the end. And a powerful means it is!
Vikram Idnani

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