Month: January 2013

Mobile Commerce Forecasts, Trends, and Developments

mobile forecastsToday’s consumers use mobile phones and tablets wherever they go, and it is no surprise that businesses are eager to tap into this new and exciting market. Now people are using their phones to make dinner reservations, purchase goods, and even manage finances. However, with new opportunities come new questions: what is the current condition of this young and growing industry? More importantly, where is the world of mobile commerce heading?

Mobile Business Is Practical (And Bound to Get Bigger)

Mobile business is as easy as it is practical, and allows for greater interaction with consumers, literally placing a company’s service in the palm of their hands. According to Business Insider, “29% of U.S. mobile users have already used their smartphone to make a purchase . . . Bank of America predicts $67.1 billion in revenue from smartphone and tablet retail purchasing by European and U.S. shoppers in 2015.” It’s the simplicity of this system that ensures exponential growth and appeal.

Personalized Experience

From Apple’s new Siri functionality to Flipboard, mobile applications are more personal than ever, and will get even more personal in the future. Many cell phones can now address owners by their names, remember birthdays, and make movie recommendations based on a user’s favorites — all of which allow companies to have a much more personal interaction with their customers. The inclusion of GPS technology and history-based advertising is becoming more common in the world of app development, so consumers can get a completely tailored experience with immersion and intimacy difficult to achieve on any other platform.

Rewards and Loyalty

A common trend in social applications is a rewards system based on “loyalty.” The concept is simple: reward people for the continued use of a service or app so they keep coming back, and in turn refer more users. Applications like Wikets and Viggle do this exceptionally well by encouraging their user base to promote with social media, and rewarding them when they do so. This trend is also known as “gamification”, and expect more businesses to use this technology with both customers and employees to drive desired behaviors in the future.

With people relying more on mobile devices for shopping and payments, businesses have been taking advantage of the portability and unobtrusiveness of the platform. Although a young concept, mobile commerce has become a growing and viable industry, and will likely impact the world of e-commerce forever.

Photo credit: Free Digital Photos

Drive Mobile Conversions Through Site Optimization and Mobile Traffic Strategies

mobile strategyThe exploding popularity of tablets and ever more powerful smartphones has forced a change in the way companies do e-business. Displacing the laptop for more than 25 percent of Internet shoppers and up to 41 percent of casual Internet browsers, smartphones and tablets are fast becoming the media of choice for online shopping, as well as web searches and browsing, leading companies to search for better methods of mobile conversion.

Match User Expectations

These activities become inconvenient or even impossible, however, when users encounter a website that has not been optimized for mobile devices. Mobile users expect high-quality, aesthetically pleasing mobile versions of websites that load quickly, offer trusted security and are easy to navigate. Businesses can no longer simply prepare for a desktop or laptop clientele and hope mobile users pinch and zoom through a poor website experience. In order to avoid profit and traffic loss, businesses must be make specific mobile conversion optimization adjustments.

Responsive Web Design

One of the most efficient adjustments is using responsive web design (RWD). RWD is beginning to replace easy fixes like apps, which had been an inexpensive and convenient way for many websites to offer a mobile-ready experience. Many mobile device users crave a true browser experience, tailored for their small screens and image resolution. RWD provides that; in fact, the innovative technology can automatically detect the device being used for viewing and then morph into the proper format for that device, whether phone, desktop or tablet. This appeals to mobile touchscreen users, especially, and makes it easier for businesses to display advertising; apps are not as conducive to mobile ads.

RWD is also eclipsing the past trend of creating a separate site with duplicate content for smartphone visitors and another one for tablet use because the all-in-one responsive web design is much faster to implement and cheaper. Experts recommend that businesses that opt to stay with duplicate mobile sites built on a sub-domain consider an HTML 5 structure, which provides a mobile-ready look for phones, eBook readers, tablets and any other mobile device.

Other Strategies

In addition to accommodating screen differences through design, some experts are encouraging customized offerings for behavioral differences. Businesses could build a database of mobile subscribers and increase mobile conversions by offering unique deals for those shopping by smartphone. “Research shows that shoppers behave differently when using mobile phones, so retailers should adjust their tactics in this channel,” said Ken Barber, vice president of marketing and product development for mShopper. Since mobile shoppers generally have their phone nearby throughout the day, businesses should text message high-value, time-sensitive deals and promotions exclusively to phone customers; such benefits, he said, would reward them for taking the time and effort to shop on tiny screens.

Other optimization strategies include checking Google analytics to study mobile behavior, keeping landing pages simple, using jQuery responsive slideshows (such as PhotoSwipe and Flexslider) and using geolocation tools that detect the whereabouts of mobile users so that special marketing messages can be sent to those who are nearby.

Photo credit: Free Digital Photos

Growing A Small Business with Etsy

Thanks to Tina for the following guest post!

While the majority of Etsy sellers use the site to launch their new businesses, a growing number of people are using it to do just the opposite. They use Etsy’s large consumer base and top-notch selling tools as a way to grow an existing small business. While this may seem odd and even redundant, there are several excellent reasons why Etsy can benefit small business owners.

1. Expanded Online Presence

Instead of limiting customers to a small business’s sole website or social media pages, owners can branch out tremendously with an Etsy storefront. It is a great way to pick up drive-by traffic and convert them into regular customers. Alternatively, store owners who simply haven’t gotten around to building their own website can maintain a viable online presence with an Etsy shop, which only involves a matter of minutes to set up. Since it is free to create an account, maintaining an Etsy site is also a budget-friendly option that bypasses the costs and hassle of having to pay for hosting and domain fees, plus web designer services for a website and e-commerce store.

2. A Virtual Sandbox

Testing out new products or variations can be risky at the best of times. Through Etsy, small business owners can create a small amount of new stock to test how well it sells. The investment costs are minimal and the site’s impressive statistics and wish list tools make it easy to gauge the popularity of new additions. Since buyers and sellers are in direct contact through Etsy, small business owners can also ask for buyer feedback for test products.

3. Control Your Target Market

Many small businesses that specialize in hand-made items tend to stick to local selling. With an Etsy storefront, they have the option of remaining local or testing out various other markets by specifying with regions they sell to. This is a fantastic way of testing the waters slowly and methodically without taking on high amounts of risk and investment. In turn, this can give small business owners precious feedback on which areas may be more receptive to a physical storefront.

4. Collaborate

Etsy sellers can freely communicate with each other through the website. Instead of seeing all other sellers as competition, small business owners can team up and collaborate on new projects with some. The key is in finding other sellers who create a complementary product or service. Collaborating helps small business owners to meet other like-minded people. Working together can be a successful exercise in creativity, not to mention the opportunity to introduce the product to an entirely new market.

5. Get Advice

Etsy’s seller forums are a treasure trove of tips, advice, and resources. There are thousands of other sellers online who share some overlap in niche markets, industries, and trades. Often when one person has a question, chances are that others have already figured out a solution. The online message boards are a great place to find all types of helpful information, from reliable suppliers to new techniques, shipping services, taxation details and plenty more.

Tina S. is a veteran Etsy seller and small business owner based in Canada. When Tina is not contributing to university ranking and research sites like, she blogs about online and offline marketing for small businesses.