Who needs an app? John Lewis launches mCommerce site

Following on from Marks and Spencer’s succesful mcommerce site, that bastion of the middle class, John Lewis, has become the second UK retailer to provide a fully mobile offering. The department store currently has around 100,000 mobile visitors on their site each week, so developing a decent version makes a lot of sense. As with M&S, they have taken the mobile web route, which will work on all handsets, rather than go with the more restrictive apps. This makes sense, given their broad (but middle class) customer base. As the mobile site can deliver all of the necessary functions: browse and buy, storing credit card details and ‘find my nearest’ there seems little point (and unecessary expense) by creating apps that will only work on a few handsets. It is interesting to note, though, that some commentators on Twitter have claimed that JL have led the way (I would argue that M&S have), and that an app is sure to follow. That makes no sense. If you can do it all with mobile (which they have) then why would anyone need an app?

Whilst brands from Ocado (5% of their interent transactions come through their app) and eBay (150k Bentley bought through the mobile app) have seen success with apps, there is no question that the mobile web is right for John Lewis. Interestingly M&S reported that customers were buy beds and sofas, with values of up to £3000 through their mobile website. Strange? Well no, it’s quite obvious when you consider that people are going to buy these items when they move house. Most broadband takes up to 10 days to go live, so using your mobile to buy stuff makes a lot of sense. Making your site suitable for mobile makes even more sense to brands in this sector.

Take That and Faithless Team Up with Shazam

ShazamTwo new mobile marketing campaigns have appeared this week that are particularly interesting. First, Faithless added the Shazam logo to their TV ad. Users could tag it through Shazam and be able to buy their tickets through their mobile. Take That took and different take on it. They are using Shazam as a means of competition entry: when fans hear their new single, The Flood, they can tag it on Shazam and they are automatically entered into their Golden Tickets competition. Fans will also receive updates when the track and their new album become available on i-tunes.

Whether you’re a fan of the two bands or not, this is an interesting take on mobile response marketing. Whilst Shazam users have been able to buy concert tickets before (for example with O2 Priority), linking it directly to the band’s promotion is a new move.

For the last ten years texting a keyword to a shortcode has been a common method to engagement: whether it be voting, asking for more information or even getting a web-link, it is pretty common place. However, keywords and shortcodes do not have to be the only response mechanism. Some brands have played with QR codes and image recognition. Although the likes of Pepsi have seen some success with QR, they haven’t exactly caught the public imagination. However, the idea of tagging some music as a means of engagement is interesting. I think it has potential, so it would be good to see where it all goes.

Are mobile phone shops the new estate agents?

A survey by Retail Eyes of over 5000 shoppers has found that mobile phone retailers (that’s phone shops to you and me), perform the poorest in terms of customer satisfaction. Just 2% of customers said they were satisfied, whereas 27% of hotel customers were happy with the service. The phone retailers fared slightly better than petrol stations (0.8% satisfaction) who were ranked the poorest.

Anyone who’se been into a phone shop will understand why they performed so poorly. They are often unable to explain price packages correctly and push for the most expensive handset/monthly subscription. As a frequent traveller, I always ask about roaming and international call and text costs. Most of the time the shop assistant can’t tell me. ‘Look at our website’ was the response from one retail outlet for O2. I did, and the website still couldn’t tell me.

Having said that, I don’t want to label phone shop staff as the ‘new estate agents’. I have, very occasionally, got a good experience from a shop. The last time was when I had to buy mobile broadband. The woman at the shop explained the packages very carefully and I got a good deal as a result of that.

However, clearly that experience is the exception and not the rule, given the report Retail Eyes.