This week Athan Papoulias, Principal Director at Global Mobile Pty Ltd, discusses the state of mobile commerce in Australia, along with some emerging trends.
Athan Papoulias launched one of the world’s first group buying websites in 2006. Called Smartshopper, the site was founded before Groupon had appeared, at a time when no one was aware of the bargain-driven shopping phenomenon that loomed on the horizon.
Since then, Papoulias worked with Fairfax before moving on to build his latest online enterprise. Global Mobile Pty Ltd was founded with a focus on mobile commerce and Papoulias devotes his time to consulting and building platforms for leading retailers. The company has recently been nominated for an award for their efforts on www.sydney.com in partnership with Tourism Australia.
What particular area of mobile commerce is global-mobile.com.au zoning in on at the moment?
Currently, we are working on ways to close the loop when it comes to coupons and offers. No one has completely solved this problem. Sending an offer via mobile is easy, but redeeming and tracking that transaction fully is close to impossible. There are many methods, such as installing software at the vendors’ POS, using intrusive technologies like NFC and therefore using the customer’s phone to complete the transaction. However, the problem with these types of solutions is that they all require a change in habit or a mass roll-out of technology, whether that be hardware of software. We’re currently working on a way to solve this issue.
What are the major trends in mobile commerce as you see them?
A major trend appears in the form of rewards via mobile and social media. Loyalty cards and other traditional rewards systems are dying out, with consumers already maintaining far too many cards in their wallets. There are now more mobile phones than people in Australia and recent surveys indicate people would prefer to lose their wallets than their phones. We can expect to see major players like MasterCard, EFTPOS and major retailers launching mobility solutions to draw consumers back to the retailers in order to make further purchases.
Where should retailers be spending their money right now in order to get the best return on their investment?
If I were a retailer, I would be focusing my energy on the mobile web, not on apps. Less than 15 percent of Australian businesses are mobile optimised, yet 60 percent of all local Google searches are performed via a mobile device. Beyond that, it takes an enormous amount of web traffic to effectively promote an app, whereas a mobile website equates to instant gratification.
Retailers launching a new site or new brand need to ensure they not only focus on mobile, but that their technology has the right framework to ‘go mobile’. Far too many retailers build a website before considering mobile at all and this can be a costly mistake. Reverse engineering is an expensive process.
The three main ways to ‘go mobile’ are:
- Apps and widgets.
- Mobile websites (from scratch).
- Mobile websites (converted from an existing site). This third option is proving popular and cost-effective, as it uses a platform to convert a website into a mobile-friendly format.
When considering mobile, retailers need to understand the exact repercussions that the difference in screen real-estate have on the entire experience – branding and logos are a secondary concern by comparison. It’s all about ease of use and being ‘thumb friendly’. Because of this, retailers often need to trim as much as 80 percent of their website and only display what is necessary. People feast on a PC, but they snack on mobile.