A few years ago, the idea of getting 5% of your orders from mobile devices was unthinkable. But today, some companies are getting that much, if not more, as reported by many presenters at the recent Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) held in mid-June 2011 in San Diego. Mobile devices are quickly becoming a significant factor for companies, and the ones who get it already have business development and marketing teams in place focused strictly on mobile.
Let's look at some numbers. According to Gigaom.com, PayPal is expected to do "$3 billion in mobile payments in 2011." In March 2011, just three months ago, that prediction was "$2 billion." PayPal processes "$10 million a day in mobile transactions, compared to $6 million a day in March 2011." Mobile is growing, and it is growing fast.
But, the majority of companies still are not in the mobile space. At a survey presented to an audience of online retailer executives at IRCE 2011, 77% indicated their company did not have an iPhone app, and a whopping 97% did not have a Windows Phone 7 app. 84% of the audience did not have an Android app either, but 13% planned to release one within the next year.
So, mobile is clearly relevant, as indicated by the PayPal mobile transaction data, but the bulk of companies still are not in the game. If you move quickly, you can beat your competition to this new revenue stream that is quickly gaining momentum.
Businesses can use a number of mobile strategies to drive revenue from mobile devices. The two main strategies most companies focus on are mobile sites and mobile apps. Which is more important? According to experts at IRCE 2011, the short answer is, "both," and the slightly longer answer is, "it depends on your industry."
Let's start with apps. Most companies should have an app at this point, or should be thinking seriously about developing and releasing an app this year. The top two platforms are iPhone and Android. People can argue all day about which is more important, but neither are going away anytime soon, so make apps for both. Apps do a number of things for your business. If you provide the technology, they allow users to place orders and drive business to your company, no matter where the user is at the time. Apps also keep your brand top-of-mind for consumers and establish trusting relationships with customers. Your brand is always in their pocket when they have your app installed.
Mobile sites are typically less playful than apps, but they still allow consumers to connect to your company from anywhere to take action, whether it is placing an order, sending an inquiry, or just browsing products and information for a future transaction.
Also, PayPal isn't the only option in this space in terms of mobile transactions. You can integrate a PayPal checkout option if you want, or use other providers like Google Checkout. Or, you can let people browse products or services via mobile apps or sites, and add items to a cart or mark them for later viewing. Then, people can come back to your site on a computer and complete the order. You can also let people place orders on mobile devices and let them pay for the order when they pick it up, which drives both orders and foot traffic.
Apps and mobile sites need to make things easy and convenient for users. Think about how you can make your customers' lives easier, and design your mobile sites and apps with those ideas in mind. If you can give users a little more convenience in their daily lives, and give them a fun experience in the process, you will be rewarded with higher order volume via mobile devices.