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The iPhone......do we or don't we love it??!!
Submit On: 09-04-2010

The evolution of smart phones has been fast paced over the last 12 months, with Apple leading the field, and yes Josem Consulting is fully iPhone compatible!

iPhoneThe widespread use of smart phones to search whilst shopping, utilise shopping comparison ‘app’s and purchase products online means retailers are essentially facing a new competitor. There really is no question as to whether retailers should integrate the use of smart phones, it’s just how they do this that remains a question.

A recent survey conducted by US web analytics company, Compete, shows 37% of smartphone owners purchased merchandise via their phones in 2009. According to the quarterly Smartphone Intelligence survey, users of the various smart phone devices are different in their usage behavior, for example, 40% of Android owners and 51% of Blackberry owners would spend $500 or more to buy a product on a mobile phone, compared to 9% of iPhone owners.

Overall the product category most purchased from smart phones is books, music and entertainment products, with 19% purchasing music; 14% purchasing books, DVDs or video games; and 12% purchasing movie tickets.In terms of non-purchase activity, the most popular mobile shopping-related activities have to do with research—41% of iPhone users and 43% of Android users are most likely to check sale prices at alternative locations from their phones whilst shopping. The second-most likely activity is accessing customer reviews, with 39% of iPhone owners and 31% of Android owners investigating reviews before they purchase.

While m-commerce is poised for explosive growth in 2010, consumers are still more likely to abandon mobile purchasing on sites that are not optimised for the on-the-go experience, similar to shopping cart abandonment in the early days of e-commerce. While searching for prices is easy, buying from the screen of a mobile phone is more difficult. The survey found that 8% of smartphone owners that tried to purchase a product on their device were unable to do so, with the site not loading the main frustration, closely followed by the site not being developed specifically for smartphone users. An additional study by IBM has found that three-quarters of consumers look to retailers to point them in the direction of the nearest store via their mobile phone, 66% would like to check product availability before going to a store and 79% want to be able to get coupons online. Many retailers are building sites and applications specifically for smartphones, and the following highlights some innovative examples:

  • eBay’s original app is going strong—generating more than 5 million downloads and - giving consumers the full eBay experience within the confines of a smartphone. But a new app from eBay focuses exclusively on finding the best deals. The new Deals app features a Daily Deals button on the home screen, which will lead to eBay’s deal of the day on fixed-price merchandise, within 8 product categories. 
  • Wal-Mart has recently launched a mobile app, focusing on electronic product recommendations. It also includes a store locator and a social media tool to ask friends for help. With some products the app can fit the desired product to the dimensions of a customer’s house. For example, if searching for a TV, a customer can take a picture of the room in which the TV will reside, and a blank square will appear in the image and the customer can adjust the square to the width and height of the space mimic the size and shape of the TV. The recommendations engine then provides products that meet those dimensions. This is just the first version of the app for Wal-Mart, built by iGoDigital LLC, a vendor of a software engine that collects customer data to create product recommendations and a gift finder. Going forward the retailer imagines even more targeted approaches can be integrated 
  • Shoebuy.com has launched an iPhone app that lets shoppers search, browse, read reviews of and buy products from the e-retailer’s catalog of more than 900 brands of shoes. The app allows users to view product details, customer reviews, high-resolution images of each product, tap to zoom, and share with friends via e-mail or Twitter. Once a shopper is ready to make a purchase, all that’s required are a few taps to indicate size, width, and colour. At checkout, shoppers can log in to their Shoebuy.com accounts or purchase with most credit cards. The app was built on a platform developed by Klick Mobile, a mobile commerce application developer.
  • US fashion brand, Tommy Hilfiger has launched a shopping app for customers that provides a seamless shopping experience from browse to purchase. The free app lets users browse the complete Tommy Hilfiger collection product by product, or by using search filters that allows users to find items in a specific category or price range. If an item is out-of-stock, shoppers can sign up for in-stock notifications directly to their iPhones. The application was built using e-commerce software developed by the Art Technology Group (ATG).
  • US pharmacy chain Walgreens, has also entered the m-commerce space with an app that allows shoppers to order prescription refills for pick up in-store. Additionally, consumers can access their photo accounts, tracking what stage their photo development is up to and the app also allows shoppers to upload iPhone pictures and order prints of those photos for in-store pickup.
  • A new iPhone payment system, called Square, is currently being trialled in the US that allows payment via the iPhone by anyone: small business or individual consumers. The small black square plugs into the phone's microphone, turning the iPhone into a card reader like the swipe machines widely used in US shops and restaurants. A lot of people are using plastic cards (to pay) but receiving payment is very difficult for some individuals.
  • Macy's iShop, on the other hand, is an example of an iPhone app that is designed with the users of the device in mind, taking advantage of navigational tools intrinsic to the iPhone user interface. The home page gives the user twelve basic departments to browse, along with a holistic search box. Once a department is selected, the user is given the "slot machine interface" that will be familiar to users of the iPhone's which allows users to fine-tune their search by category, brand and price, and a click of the "Go" button. Promotional offers can also be accessed based on store location — and employs the iPhone's location awareness to find the nearest store, and then show promotional offers valid at that store. Each Macy's location has its own profile page, with store hours, a link to turn-by-turn directions from Google, and a separate click-to-dial phone link.

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