Thursday, December 29, 2011

US Online Holiday Spending Up 15 Percent Over 2010


If there was any doubt about the popularity of online shopping during the holiday season, the figures released by comScore confirms that consumers are embracing mobile commerce like never before. I knew that online shopping was very popular, but I didn't realize that it accounts for $35.3 billion. This number is a full 15 percent above the figures released for 2010.


Approximately $1.25 billion in spending took place after on November 28, which is referred to as "Cyber Monday.” I can understand why consumers are interested in shopping this way. Online buying has become much easier with e-readers, tablets, and even smart phones. These items are very popular as gifts, and it makes sense that recipients will use them for shopping and other purposes.

During the 2011 holiday shopping season (November 1-December 26), digital content and subscriptions made up 2.8 percent of retail e-commerce sales. On Christmas Day, this category jumped to 20 percent of sales.

Given these figures, I can see that mobile technology being used for shopping is here to stay. As consumers become more comfortable shopping electronically and they realize the benefits of doing so, online store sales will continue to grow. I can't predict whether online shopping will overtake visiting a store in person, but I do know that consumers like to have a choice about what buying methods will work best for them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Day Mobile Device Activations Up 300 Percent


Is Christmas Day the time for turkey, presents, and mobile device activations? I knew that modern consumers are embracing mobile technology, but even I was surprised to discover that mobile activations for iOS and Android were up a whopping 353 percent.

During the first 20 days of December, between 1.3 and 1.8 million activations were processed each day. On Christmas Day this number skyrocketed to 6.8 million activations, which works out to a lot of people receiving a mobile device from Santa this year.



What does this mean for business owners? Now that we know that there is a pool of mobile device users who are ready and willing to embrace this technology, retailers and other businesses will be doing whatever they can to take advantage of this fact to boost sales.

I can see that this can only be a good thing as long as mobile retail sites are user-friendly and can provide consumers with the information they need to make a decision and get checked out quickly and conveniently. The name of the game here is make it easy for customers to do business with a particular company. They want their transactions fast, easy, and available to them whenever they want. The impressive number of mobile device applicant activations on Christmas Day speaks to this fact and retailers must be ready to respond appropriately.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Building a Loyalty Program through Mobile CRM

There are plenty of opportunities to engage customers and build a loyal base through rewards and loyalty programs on mobile devices, although many companies are not using this channel to its fullest potential. On average, American consumers are opted into about 18 loyalty programs, yet only carry 1-3 cards on a regular basis. However, most consumers have their phones with them at all times, with two-thirds of Americans reporting they have their phone next to them 24 hours a day, even while sleeping. I know my phone is with me at all times - at home, work, the gym, and yes, even when I am sleeping. When used correctly, mobile can be an excellent channel through which brands can build loyal customers for life.
Reaching customers through mobile can be an effective way to build loyalty and provide them with true value, giving them a reason to opt into a mobile program. Brands can offer loyalty program rewards such as:

Instant coupons – Customers can text or scan a QR code in-store to receive instant rebates. This not only benefits the customer, it will likely increase impulse purchases while customers are shopping. Brands can also track which coupons a customer redeems, increasing their ability to target communications on an individual basis.



 Invites to exclusive sales – One of the main reasons people opt into loyalty programs is to get rewards and offers that are not usually available. Inviting customers to sales that are exclusive to them is a great way to build relationships and create lifelong customers.



 



Special occasion rewards – Almost everyone likes a happy birthday wish or congratulations on an achievement or anniversary, so what better way to build relationships with your customers than by personalizing mobile messages that are uniquely for them. 





 


Alerts & Notifications – Notify customers when new products are available or send reminders for sales, special events, or appointments. This adds value and personalizes the shopping experience for your customers.  





In addition, converting to a mobile loyalty program is environmentally friendly since customers can ditch their plastic rewards cards and paper coupons. Moreover, it is likely the problem of forgetting your card or coupon at home will become outdated as more customers adopt mobile.

As mobile devices increase in popularity, so will the use of mobile loyalty programs. Brands that are smart will start using this channel early and win in the end with a large group of highly devoted customers.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NFC is coming near you!

What exactly is NFC? NFC, or Near Field Communication, is the technology that allows certain devices to communicate with each other through radio communication by being in the same proximity of each other, usually no more than a few centimeters. This is based on the same technology as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). Uses for this includes payments and ticketing, point of sale couponing, checking in with location based social media networks such as Foursquare, loyalty programs, smart posters, cards, and stickers, and many more.

To a lot of people, it could be the future, but to many others, it’s pretty scary. The thought of transmitting information through your phone just by walking by an external device would make many people nervous.

McDonald’s restaurants have already rolled out NFC in Japan, allowing customers to download coupons, place orders, redeem coupons, and pay for their order from mobile devices. Soon you’ll be able to get on a bus and swipe your phone next to a sensor that will read your account and automatically pay for your fare. In Paris, the Centre Pompidou museum will use NFC technology to allow visitors to learn more about artists and their work by waving their phone near exhibits. NFC also can allow users to share photos and videos just by touching their devices together.


Google, Apple and Amazon are all currently exploring opportunities using NFC. The technology is still very rare in the US but has become pretty common in parts of Asia and Europe, and as smartphone adoption continues to increase in the states, we will see an increase in NFC usage over the coming years.

Mobile Marketing Advertising to Grow in 2012

As the year ends, we are seeing many articles and studies on trends in 2012 and beyond. Berg Insight has released a report predicting that mobile marketing and advertising is poised to grow from $3.4 billion in 2010 to $22.6 billion in 2016. According to the analyst firm, this figure will equal 15.2 percent of the total amount spent on internet advertising. The definition of mobile marketing used for this study was a digital image displayed on a mobile handset.


This report is also predicting that a large increase in mobile advertising is on the way. This makes sense to me. Smartphones have become a mainstream accessory and retailers who were holding back on designating a portion of their advertising budget to mobile marketing efforts now know that this is an effective way to reach out to buyers.

As mobile advertising continues to develop, big players in the OS market such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo will continue to jockey for position to increase their market share. I think the one to watch in this race may well be Facebook. The social media giant is getting ready to jump into the mobile advertising game.

Given the fact that so many internet users are already familiar with Facebook, this company stands a very good chance of making its newest venture a great success. I know I'll be watching carefully to see what happens next.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Consumers Still Struggling with Mobile Commerce Applications


Mobile commerce has been growing in popularity amongst consumers in the past year. They are actively using smartphones and tablets to buy all kinds of items without having to actually visit a brick and mortar store. The results of a survey conducted by Harris Interactive show that businesses are losing money because their mobile sites are frustrating or confusing to consumers. 

The survey revealed that 84 percent of respondents stated they found mobile transactions challenging to complete. Another 25 percent of those surveyed said that they had trouble logging in to a mobile site.
I know that internet users have notoriously short attention spans, and they have no problem with abandoning a mobile commerce transaction if they perceive it as difficult or time-consuming. Once the customer has been lost, the business has an uphill battle to get that person to go back onto its web site. In most cases, I can see that the customer would move on to buy from a competitor.
If these kinds of issues are not enough of a concern for business owners, they also need to be aware of consumers’ concerns about fraud. Forrester Research has conducted a survey that has led to some very interesting results. A full 44 percent of respondents stated that they would be more likely to buy items through mobile devices if they were more confident about linking their credit card and banking information through them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays from the 3Seventy Team!

Wishing you all the best this holiday season & a great start to 2012!


- Your 3Seventy Team!

Mobile Health Devices Not Immune to Human Error Factor

I can see the advantages of doctors using mobile devices to access patient records, test results, and other information needed to provide good quality medical care. I can even appreciate that using them can help to keep health care costs more affordable by reducing the need for bulky paper records.

Unfortunately, there is a down side to mobile health devices, and that involves the people using them. Doctors have many, many demands on their time when they are on the job and something as simple as interruption when trying to input instructions about patient care for the nursing staff can have severe consequences.

I knew residents working in hospitals were busy people but I was very surprised to discover that the average number of interruptions they have to deal with during a shift was 4.6 per hour. Further complicating matters is the fact that a number of hospitals allow medical staff to bring their own mobile devices to work with them.

This is clearly a case where more is not necessarily better, and in the midst of a busy shift, I can see someone picking up the wrong device and trying to use it for work purposes. When doctors make mistakes with mobile health applications, it can lead to patients not being given proper medication or receiving appropriate medical care. Perhaps the answer is for hospitals to ban all non-workplace issued mobile devices when on the job.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mobile Security Features a Necessity for Consumers


I read the results of a study conducted by PC World magazine with great interest. Of the 1,410 readers who responded, 65 percent stated that they felt mobile security is needed on smartphones and tablets. A full 57 percent of respondents stated they would be prepared to pay for this type of protection.  
Given the amount of personal information stored on a consumer’s smartphone or tablet, I think it’s important for owners to consider all reasonable measures to keep it secure, and this includes installing security software as it becomes available. 

The threat to a mobile device owner’s information can also come in the form of malware, which can be introduced to them when downloading seemingly innocent files. Desktop computer owners are already familiar with the idea that they need to have good quality virus protection software in place if they want to keep the device running properly. 

The results of the survey are further broken down between Android and iOS owners. People who chose Android were more likely to state that they understood the need for security software than consumers who have an iOS system. The iOS owners, on the other hand, were more likely to state they were willing to pay for software that would make their mobile devices more secure. Android tablet owners were more likely to state that security software was necessary than people who bought an iPad.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Demand for Mobile Health IT Products on the Rise


I wasn’t surprised at all to learn that the medical profession is embracing mobile health IT products. Healthcare providers want to take this one step further and work with even more sophisticated products that can provide them with patient medical records and other information they need quickly and efficiently.
Mobile Point of Care devices are becoming more commonplace in hospitals. Workstations on wheels, tablets and smartphones are part of the equipment doctors and other healthcare providers use to do their work. Seeing a doctor using them at a patient’s bedside or in an examining room is to be expected.
I found the results of a survey conducted by IDC Health Insights very interesting. The respondents reported using an average of 6.4 mobile devices every day. A full 42 percent stated that the physicians working in their facility had a high to very high adoption rate for these items. A full 86 percent of them predicted that the adoption rate would increase over the next year or two.
Laptops were the most popular mobile device, with 84 percent of respondents saying that they used them on the job. Over half of those surveyed said that they use workstations on wheels or a tablet while at work.
I predict that spending on these types of mobile health devices will continue to increase. If these devices help doctors do their work better, it can only be a good thing.