Get mobile or be left in the dust: Google executive
London Community News
By Meredith MacLeod
If your business isn’t mobile, you better get moving, a Google executive told a Burlington business crowd Thursday.
Ray Reddy, group product manager of mobile commerce, says smartphones and tablets are changing the way people spend money and the way businesses convince them to part with their cash.
He says the key is that mobile devices connect the online and real worlds in a way they have never been before.
So, in practical terms, that means a consumer out looking to buy an electronic gadget or a new pair of shoes can search to find a nearby retailer carrying that product. The phone’s locational services can literally take that potential purchaser right to a retailer’s door.
And then guide them through the store.
Walmart, for one, has introduced a smart shopping list that gives prices on products and lists which aisles to find them in.
Almost 30 per cent of shoppers discover a business through a mobile device, Reddy, 31, told about 250 people gathered for the third in a series of networking luncheons hosted by Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring and the Burlington Economic Development Corporation.
“Being discoverable on mobile is probably one of the most important things bricks and mortar businesses need to focus on over the next few year,” said Reddy, who leads a number of shopping and commerce efforts for the company from its campus in Kitchener.
Yet so many companies just migrate their website on to an app and think they’re done, he says. But key information is buried so deep, or simply can’t be seen on a small screen, that mobile users get frustrated and give up.
Retail queries through Google from mobile phones and tablets account for about 15 per cent currently, but Reddy predicts that the curve will be so steep that it will hit 50 per cent “way faster than any of you can imagine. Before you know it, the majority of your customers will be mobile.”
Reddy showed charts illustrating that we peruse the online world through desktop computers during the workday and then turn to tablets in the evenings and on weekends. Mobile phones are used consistently through the day and the week. They are with us at all times and “may be the only device we own that we don’t share with others.”
There are many companies doing innovative things in capturing the mobile consumer, says Reddy.
Chase Bank in the United States allows customers to take a picture of a cheque to be deposited. No trip to the bank.
Starbucks allows its loyal, high-spending cardholders to pay using a bar code on their phones that is linked to an app. Walgreens gives a discount to those who scan a bar code to get a prescription refilled.
Uber, a San Francisco startup that recently landed in Toronto, allows users to “call” for a black limo cab through clicking an app. Users can see all the cars in their vicinity on a map.
“You can watch your cab come to pick you up … You can enter your credit card information and destination before it comes. So you just get out of the cab without reaching for your wallet.”
Hotel Tonight figured out that a big chunk of hotel queries were for rooms that night. Users find a list of all the hotels available and can book one with a click.
While mobile devices are immediate, ever-present and offer convenient, real-time information, they do have limitations, says Reddy. Small screen size and the challenge of clicking buttons are big ones.
“You have to think about click distance, which is how many clicks does it take to get done what a customer wants. Every click, you lose 50 per cent. So you have to think carefully about introducing that extra click.”
According to comScore, which measures the digital world, smartphone penetration has reached 45 per cent in Canada among those 13 and older. It will surpass 50 per cent this year, the research group predicts.
This reflects the trend worldwide. According to Reddy, more than 1 million Android devices (using Google’s mobile operating system) are activated each day.
A report released Wednesday found that four of every five smartphone users in the United States, 86 million people, accessed retail content on their device in July alone. Amazon, Apple, Walmart, Target and Best Buy were the top attractions.
Reddy, a University of Waterloo graduate, worked for Research in Motion’s corporate strategy team before founding PushLife, a commerce and digital content platform for mobile operators. It was acquired for $25 million by Google in 2011.
- Hamilton Spectator