RSR Research: Where to Start with Mobile?
Commentary by Nikki Baird,Managing
Partner, RSR Research
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of an article from Retail Paradox, Retail Systems Research’s
weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers.
Two weeks ago, I sat at
a round table with six CIOs from an array of retail verticals at RIS
News‘ Executive Summit event. Since the conversation
was pretty candid, I won’t share who was at my table. But we had grocery, entertainment,
luxury, and sporting goods represented. Our objective in the breakout session
was to come up with and address some of the issues that mobile commerce faces
currently. One of the elementary questions that came up was where to start.
clear consensus at the table was to make your existing e-commerce site mobile-friendly
as soon as possible — and that did include evaluating how important Flash really
is to you. The problem with this endeavor is that it seems to be leading to round
two of the e-commerce platform refresh, this time with a heavy emphasis on back
end around content management. You need a very strong content management system
if you want to make your site mobile-friendly. And even once you’ve done that,
the biggest challenge, according to the CIOs at the table, is maintaining a
quality user experience on mobile. This isn’t because of challenges with
detecting mobile devices or browsers, but because mobile players are unlocking
more and new features every day, and it’s hard to keep up with that evolution
in terms of what a retailer site might leverage.
The good news is that it’s relatively
cheap to experiment and play around with the front-end mobile experience while
doing the heavy lifting on the back-end improvements to make a robust mobile
Within the context of mobile-enabling the existing e-commerce
site, most of the retailers at the table were exploring core things, not trying
to completely mobilize the existing site. It’s already clear to them that not
everything on their site today is going to be useful in a mobile context, but
that has led them to the flip side — what are the mobile-specific things that
need to be enabled? In other words, at what point will the mobile experience
diverge from the online experience? And do you really want to go down that
road? That question got no answers from those of us at the table.
But I’ll leave
you with one very pragmatic piece of advice from my very pragmatic CIOs. The
best tactic for getting mobile projects going is to give your CEO a bunch of
mobile devices (iPads a plus for sure). But if you do that, you better make
sure to give the same set of devices to your help desk first.
Discussion Questions: What will likely be the biggest challenges as e-commerce
strategies are tied to m-commerce? On the other hand, at what point will the
mobile experience diverge from the online experience?