A new and notable social commerce experiment is about to launch on Facebook. Starting tomorrow, The Limited will enable their fans to purchase products directly from their news stream. This will enable The Limited to push unique offers and products into their Facebook fans’ news feeds from which their fans can transact with The Limited while never having to jump off to their commerce site to convert. The feature is called “Off The Wall” since the fan will be interacting through their wall on Facebook.
On Wednesday, a few colleagues along with myself sat down for a briefing with ATG around their interactive help services (formally eStara). The primary purpose of the call was to review results from a recent survey ATG (see full survey) had conducted around interactive help. While much of the data I had seen before in previous surveys done by Forrester or other vendors, one piece stood out that I wanted to share.
I recently returned from a trip to the UAE (Dubai mostly) and Oman. While there I did a bit of research on my own - just talking to folks about how they use their cell phones and so forth. I also had the chance to interview the head of mobile banking services in EMEA for a large, global bank. More on how global banks are avoiding building new branches by offering mobile banking services in another post.
First, I took the public bus from Dubai to Oman. The average income per family in Oman is far below that in the States - probably less than half. Gas and other utilities are cheap as is education and healthcare. That said, we know that cell phone usage has little to do with income. One of the first things I noticed is how many of the men had at least two cell phones. My initial hypothesis was a work phone and a personal phone. I was soon corrected by my guide who drove me up to Jebel Shams. In a country where men can have more than one wife, apparently more than one cell phone is necessary. My guide's father has five current wives, but has had nine all together. My guide had two cell phones and a lot more SIM cards.
My guide was 37 years of age. He had four children and seemed to have an about average income. He worked in sales when he wasn't serving as a guide. He's probably easily one of the most sophisticated cell phone users I've ever met. His cell phone was his portable media player for both music and video. I was astonished by the number of videos he had sideloaded from YouTube. The ringtones were pretty much driving me crazy after about 15 hours in a car with him road tripping. He only had a couple of different ring tones and his phone rang a lot.
I give my colleague Charles Golvin credit for finding this article on the official Google blog. I'll be working on a report on the intersection of social and mobile in early 2010 so please send me more examples if you have some. I'm especially interested in the role of social/mobile in the Retail environment.
Google is mailing out storefront window stickers to 100,000 local businesses in the US. (see their blog post for complete information). If you have the right type of phone and supporting software, you can take a photo of the code on the sticker (see below) and you'll be taken to that business' PlacePage on the Web. The service will show available coupons, allow for ratings, get reviews, etc.
Here is their post on the applications that work with the service:
There were a number of sites that reported that Ovi is reaching nearly one million downloads a day. Here's one post with quite a few stats on the store. Congratulations to Nokia.
I'm writing a piece of research before the end of the year on important trends in wireless. Both increasing and improved direct access to consumers through application stores on cell phones is one of the top trends. The success this past year of Android, Apple, Blackberry and Nokia provides supporting data points. The percentage of smartphones in the market grew at least by 50% from 2008 to 2009. I expect to see more of the same in 2010. Putting an application on your customer's phone is only getting easier.
HitFix launched their iPhone application at the beginning of last week. They basic service provides entertainment - movie, TV, performing arts - listings near where you are or where you live.
I judge the quality of mobile services within the context of the Convenience Quotient. (See report). I define the benefits of mobile services as immediacy (value of having the information or service now), simplicity and context. This service does all three fairly well though I'd like to see it do more.
Immediacy - let's me see what is playing nearby and soon. Would love to see the application go beyond pure forms of entertainment like films and TV, but this is a starting place. I would have liked to see local festivals and street fairs ... or "Christmas Tree Lighting in GG Park," but I know this is hard.
Simplicity - Let's me link to an area to purchase movie tickets from within the application. That seems basic, but it is not a no-brainer to get all of these partnerships lined up. If it could link to my DirectTV DVR service so I could record TV shows I find within the application, that would be cool.
Context - uses my location/shows me what is nearby.
They also do well to help with discovery by promoting the iPhone application with two banner ads on their home screen. The link falls short though by simply connecting me to the Apple web site where I can download iTunes - it doesn't give me directions for finding the application within the App store or give me much of a description.
I spend much of my day viewing, using and evaluating financial service Web sites. Often I am underwhelmed (especially by the big guys) on what is done online, but every once in a while I run across something that is truly innovative. That happened for me a few weeks ago when getting a rate quote on Progressive Insurance's Web site.
The quote process starts off as most financial service applications do by asking for some basic information - in my case name, address and date of birth. But the similarities with other processes ends right there...
Overall, Christmas 2009 may be far better for retailers than expected, following a turbulent year for the retail sector. Many retailers have successfully adjusted their tactics to maximize sales and margins — such as reworking their assortments around lower price points. According to Kelkoo, sales in the six weeks to Christmas are expected to reach £44.7 billion this year and account for 18.5% of total annual retail spending. And the best bargains are likely yet to come in the final week before Christmas.
I recently published a document about the always asked question of cross selling. My analysis showed that on average US adults own 8.2 financial products across a range of products including deposit, credit cards, brokerage, mortgage and insurance.
So which is the best bank at cross selling you may ask?
It's not a bank at all. It's USAA - a credit union dedicated to US military personnel. USAA members have on average 3.9 products with the firm, far above the average of 2.5.