GETTING THE BRICKS AND MORTAR OUT     OF A MOBILE SHOPPING CART   Overcoming the “weight” of slow server calls and        ...
Getting the bricks and mortar out of a mobile shopping cart     Overcoming the “weight” of slow server calls and page load...
The case for downloadable appsDownloadable apps that are well designed can solve the “weight/wait” mobile cart problems be...
consumers have a limited appetite for the number of applications they are willing to download andmaintain on their devices...
Here’s the way bricks and mortar show up in a standard web-based solution:The bricks and mortar shown above can be “design...
from the mobile site and not its applications, proving that retailers should focus on having aWeb presence befor...
The design problem: standard shopping carts have either an "add-to-cart" button or a checkbox (whichrequires clicking on a...
And for maximizing contact with potential customers, a Mobile Commerce Survey by Mobile Marketer inOctober 2010 underscore...
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Getting the Bricks & Mortar Out of A Mobile Shopping Cart


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Getting around the seemingly insurmountable problem of mobile latencies is possible by design. The latencies may remain, but by reducing the requirement to trigger server calls the efficiency and convenience of a mobile cart can start to feel a lot like a well designed desktop cart. Because research shows that every second added to page loads can reduce sales by 7%, getting every extra needless second out is a winning strategy for commerce on the mobile web. One such patented technology is the "instant-add" or "one-click" cart that takes no time at all to add, delete, or change quantities in an online shopping cart.

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Transcript of "Getting the Bricks & Mortar Out of A Mobile Shopping Cart"

  1. 1. GETTING THE BRICKS AND MORTAR OUT OF A MOBILE SHOPPING CART Overcoming the “weight” of slow server calls and page load times with better design D e s i g n, I n c.
  2. 2. Getting the bricks and mortar out of a mobile shopping cart Overcoming the “weight” of slow server calls and page load times with better design The bricks that weigh heavily on every mobile cart are made of time: the time required for each server call 3-5 seconds ( 1) The chunks of mortar in mobile carts are made of needless clicks and graphics that interrupt and slow the ease of shoppingResearch by Gomez in 2010 opens with the headline: “When you’re doing business on the Web, everysecond counts.” Their study demonstrated that 58% of people expect a mobile website to perform like adesktop website, and if a page load takes more than 2 seconds, 40% are likely to abandon that site. Thesame study found that “the average impact of a 1-second delay meant a 7% reduction in conversions.For the $100,000/day ecommerce site, a one-second delay means $2.5 million in lost revenues in ayear.” (2)Since the basic operations that make up an online transaction—“add”, “delete”, “change quantity”--require sending transaction data from the shopper’s mobile device to the vendor’s server (average 3-5seconds), it’s easy to see why buying things on the Mobile Web is a problem needing a solution.Unless a new method of making server calls reduces the time they take to less than two seconds, orthere is way to reduce server calls to a minimum, people will not be happy with buying things on amobile phone because while mobile users will sacrifice some things,” the one thing they will notsacrifice is speed.” (3)And let’s note that a server call not only takes too long but also consumes the most battery power ofany function on a mobile device. So, it’s not only slow but puts a major load on operating resources.The chunks of mortar in m-commerce carts also add “weight” and waiting to a cart, even though theyare different in kind from bricks. They simply interrupt the process of shopping in ways that are time-consuming and annoying, breaking the flow of the shopper’s sense of control and pleasure. Forexample, the time it takes for pictures and fancy graphics to load, or for a popup box appearing afteryou click “add to cart” that you must then click in order to “close”. pg. 1
  3. 3. The case for downloadable appsDownloadable apps that are well designed can solve the “weight/wait” mobile cart problems beautifullyby keeping transaction requests—“add”, “delete”, “change quantity”-- on the shopper’s mobile deviceuntil the shopper requests to “check out”. Only then is a server call used to make a payment. In a givenshopping session, a person can thus make all kinds of transaction requests without running into a pile ofbricks. A good app designer will also eliminate many chunks of mortar --excess graphics and clicks-- tomaximize an easy, uninterrupted shopping experience.The downside of appsWhile using apps for loyal customers’ content customization may be relevant for building strongvendor/customer ties, they should be looked at separately from apps whose principle value to thecustomer is a fast, easy shopping cart experience. In that arena, it is not at all clear that apps are a netgain for anyone. The weakness lies in the overhead required by apps for the vendor and for thecustomer, and especially the first-time or occasional customer who doesn’t want to bother downloadinga new app for each site they visit.Vendors choosing an app solution for their shopping cart (downloaded to and residing on the shopper’sdevice) will experience a hornet’s nest of problems that are already multiplying as more and morevendors migrate to the Mobile Web. • A downloadable app must be designed to work successfully on every device and version of the device, and it must be upgraded with each new device or upgrade. • The app must be found, downloaded, installed, and updated with subsequent upgraded versions by the shopper. • Each of these problems translates into dollar and energy overhead for vendors and customers alike including contingency planning for unknowns, bugs, and customer service requests. • These problems continue to require overhead indefinitely, as long as the market continues to fill with more vendors, more devices, and more platforms. • Most importantly, the app solution does not solve the problem encountered either by a first- time visitor to a website or a shopper who does not wish to download, install, and maintain an app.The last point is critical: If your first-time visitors have a sluggish, brick-like experience using yourshopping cart, they will remember it and look for a better experience elsewhere. (4) Gomez researchfinds, “88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience” and “almosthalf expressed a less positive perception of the company overall after a single bad experience.” (2)An Adobe Scene 7 survey weighed in on this point in October, 2010:‘We believe consumers do not prefer apps over browsers to access content partly because they like theconvenience of simply typing their queries and destinations right into the browser, compared tofrequently searching for applications, then downloading them from an app store. ... Moreover, most pg. 2
  4. 4. consumers have a limited appetite for the number of applications they are willing to download andmaintain on their devices. “(4)Industry analysts suggest that a mobile Web strategy should be firstIn a 2010 publication from Forrester Research, “From Mobile Commerce: Getting started and mappingout your strategy” (5): Brian K. Walker (Principal Analyst, Commerce,) reportsThe Mobile Web Is Where You Should Focus Today•Serves a majority of customer use cases•Does not require a customer download•Lower development and service costs•Easier to manage the changes happening to the applications ecosystem•Interesting customer experiences are possible on the mobile web too”Getting the “weight” out of your cart on the mobile WebFor the needs of vendors and customers to be met in a “best possible cart”, designers must never losesight of the single greatest predictor of a completed purchase: the time it takes. Even though this singlefact is well established, mobile site design used by some of the top 15 mobile retailers is currentlymissing the mark. According to a recent web performance analysis, Gomez reports:“While mobile users may be willing to trade some functionality for the convenience of mobileconnectivity, they will not sacrifice speed or availability. However, as the March data [research byGomez into speed of page loads on mobile Web sites] reveals, there’s more than a 10 second differencein response time from the leading mobile site to the site ranked 15th, even for the same device on thesame wireless carrier.” (6)These problems can be solved by design. Basically, the key is to use design principles that lighten up thecart by throwing out excess weight—the bricks and chunks of mortar (the clicks and heavy graphics notessential to a sale). Every brick and every chunk of mortar you throw out increases the performance ofa shopping cart and brings you closer to the ideal “best” criteria of optimizing “the time it takes” tomake transactions.By eliminating server calls, customers will clearly have a faster, more satisfying experience and be lesslikely to abandon shopping--no matter how fast the server call latency on any device, or level of internetcongestion or battery power. But eliminating needless page changes adds to a less well-definedparameter that is, however, recognizable as soon as you experience it: the heightened pleasure derivingsimply from fewer interruptions to shopping. Psychological research identifies a phenomenon like this,called “flow”, seen commonly in long distance runners and artists at work. Even online shopping offersthe possibility of a “flow” experience, meaning the process in which the customer is pleasurablyconcentrated and feeling in control, uninterrupted, in other words, by page changes they do notrequest. Of course, by definition, throwing out these chunks of interruptive mortar also reduces “thetime it takes” to shop. But, the added pleasure of unobstructed browsing-- adding things, switchingcategories, adding more things (perhaps just to hold in the cart until a final decision is made) withoutinterruption—should not be underestimated. pg. 3
  5. 5. Here’s the way bricks and mortar show up in a standard web-based solution:The bricks and mortar shown above can be “designed out” of a mobile cart. Apps do it. And so does theinnovative “instant-add” technology from i-Cue Design that works on the Mobile Web, without the useof an app. But before we see how they do it, we should consider the hidden costs of a well-designedmobile cart.Minimizing overheadWith the introduction of downloadable apps, the concept of overhead now affects vendors andshoppers alike because along with their advantages in performance, apps place new demands forresources on everyone. Thus, the amount of overhead built in to a mobile cart solution has to befactored into its value.On the vendor side, overhead includes resources required to develop, implement and update ashopping cart app using a well-known set of activities -- design, testing, and implementation for anynumber of platforms and devices, as well as customer service -- all of which can be evaluated byprojecting dollars spent and expected sales revenue.On the customer side, overhead includes the time and energy it takes to find and download an app, toinstall and learn to use it, to maintain it over time or re-install it on a new device, and to decide if it’sworth downloading one more after having downloaded so many others.Rimma Kats weighs in on the side of the Mobile Web in her recent article about, saying: “ABrown Shoes Co. exec at the Mobile Shopping Summit said that 85 percent of mobile purchases come pg. 4
  6. 6. from the mobile site and not its applications, proving that retailers should focus on having aWeb presence before jumping on the app bandwagon.”(7)And when it comes to overhead for the vendor, Adrian Mendoza, cofounder of Marlin Mobile writes,“…as a category, mobile applications have an inevitable shelf life because, quite frankly, they causemarketers to spend too much time and money with unpredictable returns.”(8)I-Cue Design’s “instant-add” solution for the mobile Web eliminates overhead by orders of magnitudeBecause the i-Cue Design solution functions on web pages via standard browser controls, literally all thecosts required to develop apps across devices, platforms, and versions, plus the need to maintain themand provide customer service over time, are eliminated. Not only that, customer overhead is likewisereduced to zero. But most importantly, all customers--old, new, or occasional--get the same app-likeexperience.Below is a comparison of the overhead required by an app solution and the i-Cue Design “instant-add”solution.i-Cue Design offers a Mobile Web “best possible cart” solution – fast, light, and low overhead foreveryoneKnowing what criteria are required for the “best possible cart”, from both the vendor and customersides, is what makes it possible to build one. It’s a design issue. At root, the criteria can be summarizedas the reduction/elimination of bricks and chunks of mortar wherever possible. i-Cue Design usedprecisely these criteria to create a solution that works equally on any website accessed by anycomputer/device, working as it does on a vendor’s web page(s) with the browser. pg. 5
  7. 7. The design problem: standard shopping carts have either an "add-to-cart" button or a checkbox (whichrequires clicking on an "add-selected-items" button at the bottom of a list). Every click of the "add"button means a full or partial page change, which means some amount of waiting time and possible lossof context for your customer.The i-Cue Design solution: the “instant-add” technology is, in effect, a hybrid that could be described asa “check-button”. A checkbox is clicked and immediately there is visual confirmation of the desiredtransaction task, with no secondary click required to “submit selection”, as with standard checkboxes. Itmight look like this:This is how the patented innovation from i-Cue Design minimizes server calls for making transactions: Itfirst differentiates between “task cues” and “navigation cues” and applies this user-interface standardacross all view (i.e., web page) designs. Task cues are simply allowed to accumulate in the view withoutany server interaction. Typically, this means that a form on a view has all the necessary data enteredinto it. If client-side validation, calculations or other manipulation is required or desired, JavaScript isused, as is typical in the industry.Once the task cues are completed on the client-side, the user will request a new view. Requesting anew view means that the user feels the task data on this page is complete and chooses to move on toanother view. The “navigation activator” code intercepts the click event of the navigation link in theview. This novel activation cue is the key to the “instant-add” functionality, combining the request for anavigation with the sending of transaction data—in effect, the navigation, which is typically passive, isnow active because it actively sends the transaction before it navigates. Moreover, the navigationactivator makes sure that the task information in the view is collected and sent to the server before thenew page is loaded. In this way, the task cues are not lost when a new webpage is requested and thetask data does not need to be stored on the client-side.The end result is that the system does the work “transparently” to the user because the task data isprocessed when the user is expecting the presentation to change because they have requested a newpage view. The outcome provides customers with a shopping experience that feels more in theircontrol, with fewer interruptions, less frustration, more pleasure, and taking a lot less time.People want to shop on the Mobile Web—build your foundation thereIndustry analysts agree that mobile shopping is about to increase dramatically and the best m-commerce strategy is to start with the Mobile Web: first because of the economics--the Mobile Web“…is intrinsically more searchable, discoverable, measurable and testable – ultimately providing greaterROI for mobile initiatives with less effort and complexity” (8), and second because of the reach--“Formobile strategies that call for reaching the broadest user base, a browser approach is the baselinethreshold; a hybrid approach that delivers both web and app experiences is ideal.”(6) pg. 6
  8. 8. And for maximizing contact with potential customers, a Mobile Commerce Survey by Mobile Marketer inOctober 2010 underscores “… the importance of offering a unique mobile-optimized Web site that lookselegant cross all popular smart phone platforms and creates a mobile shopping experience for thebroadest set of customers."(9)Making mobile commerce a pleasureThe best possible cart delivers the best shopping experience to customers. While research suggests thatthe “best shopping experience” is defined by how easy and fast it is--represented in part by how fasttransaction tasks are-- it is also partly defined by how many barriers and interruptions are not part ofthe process. Eliminating server calls makes transactions faster; eliminating forced popups, graphics, andpage changes not only eliminates server calls but enhances a shopper’s ability to stay concentrated, feelin control of the experience, and even have an experience of “flow” – the pleasure often experienced byartists and athletes absorbed in their work.Providing shoppers with an online shopping experience that is both satisfying and pleasurable is surely adescription of “the best possible cart”. All indicators suggest that i-Cue Design offers just that.1. Dec. 6, 2010 – Keynote – Mobile Commerce (Retail) Performance Index – US Feb. 2, 2010 – Gomez IT, “Why Web Performance Maters: Is Your Site Driving Customers Away?” April 25, 2011 – “Site testing is a must with growing acceptance of m-commerce: experts” October, 2010 – Adobe Scene 7 - Mobile Consumer Survey June 15, 2010 – Demandware Mobile Commerce white paper - “Mobile Commerce: Getting started andmapping out your strategy”6. May 2, 2011 – Giselle Tsirulnik, “QVC demonstrates understanding of need for speed on mobile Web: Gomez” April 28, 2011 – Rimma Kats, “ 85pc of purchases come from mobile Web, not apps” Dec., 27, 2010 – Adrian Mendoza, “Why a mobile app does not make sense” Feb. 2011 - Mobile Commerce Outlook 2011 (Web design section, p. 42) i-CUE DESIGN, INC.:i-Cue Design was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with R&D activitieslocated in Ukiah, California. I-Cue Design provides a patented technology to enhance online shopping, inparticular from any mobile device. i-Cue Design was selected as a finalist for MobiTechFest 2011conference, which aims to select the most innovative and disruptive startups predicted to make aprofound impact on the wireless/mobile marketplace and influence the way we live, work andcommunicate. pg. 7