LONDON – The retail implications of mobile media go far beyond so-called “m-commerce” -- the instant conversion of a retail purchase via a mobile device -- but likely have even greater long-term effects for consumers and marketers alike, a top strategist at London-based mobile agency Somo Global said this morning during a presentation at OMMA Mobile Europe.
In fact, that executive, Somo Chief Strategy Officer Ross Sleight, went to far as to assert: “I think in e-commerce, we have taken the fun out of shopping.”
Sleight indicated that the problem with mobile media -- especially tablets -- is that many marketers, agencies and retailers are thinking of it as an extension of a Web site, and are utilizing it in prosaic, task-oriented and conversion-oriented ways that aren’t leveraging the high-impact experience value of mobile technology.
“Shopping on Amazon isn’t any fun,” he quipped, adding that tablets, by contrast, are about “bringing things to life.”
Sleight gave an example of a campaign Somo recently implemented for Domino’s Pizza that went well beyond conventional task-oriented conversions, and provided emotional and eye-catching displays and options that enabled consumers to customize and upgrade their pizza orders with “extras” ranging from “cole slaw” to “chicken wings.”
He said the power of the campaign was in its ability to harness the high resolution of retina displays to “make the pizzas look mouth-watering” in ways that conventional Web browsing experiences might not.
“This really showed that creating a tablet-only experience drove more sales in day one than it would have done on the Web,” he said, citing other examples of retailers who utilized the highly visualized nature of tablets to create custom content experiences that went beyond the kind of conventional brochure-ware that retailers usually utilize the Web for.
Offering examples of U.K. retailer Mark & Spencer’s new “Home” iPad app, Sleight said it was more of a “magazine-like” experience showing beautifully rendered home furnishing settings where the products are more in the background than listed as inventory on a retail Web page.
“This is not about ‘search for a sofa,’” he said, “This is about, ‘give me sets, give me shots, make it more magazine-like. Make the retail experience look, wow!’”
The point, he said, is to utilize the “engagement” value of tablet computers to bring some “joy with shopping,” and to leverage magazine-like or event TV format content to do that. Noting that tablets are equally capable of rendering high-quality video, he quipped: “A picture says a thousand words. And a video says a thousand pictures. I think we will see a lot more of that.”
Sleight noted that mobile devices are playing a direct response role too, especially as the “second screen” response mechanism for people watching television, but that when consumers bring their mobile device into retail shopping experiences, they begin to adopt other behaviors and habits that are beginning to augment their shopping experience, especially how they research the brands and products they buy at retail.
Sleight said he’s been spot-checking this phenomenon every three months by going into a major retail location and observing how people utilize their mobile devices while shopping.
“Every three months I see more and more people whip out their mobile and checkout products,” he said, noting that they might be “checking for prices” or researching additional information about the product instead of talking to a sales associate.
The important thing, he said, was to understand that while people are beginning to convert purchases directly on their mobile devices in retail locations, more of them are doing research that may be converted later online via a conventional computer Web browser or even at a retail location.
“If mobile affects anything on the purchase journey, it’s not all about the silo of e-commerce,” he said, adding: “We’ve got a medium here that is affecting the research and customer purchase journey.”