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HSN iPhone Changes the Subject to Conversion

2009 August 19
HSN iPhone mobile commerce application featuring shake2shop

HSN iPhone mobile commerce application featuring shake2shop

Mobile Commerce is starting be, well… commerce. Home Shopping Network (HSN) announced their new iPhone application that among other things let’s you buy stuff.

So far much of the hype around mobile commerce and mobile advertising has brought back painful memories of the Dot-com days before the bust. Back then it seemed everyone built their business model on ad revenue and the glory of first mover advantage. Today’s conversations on mobile ad revenue and “stickier”, more loyal customers seems to be the same deja vu all over again.

Now we have another great example of a company using their ecommerce expertise to find another way to connect with their consumers and convert eyeballs into revenue. Hallelujah.

Modern consumers use their phone when they’re bored. Look around. Almost everywhere you’ll find someone staring at their phone: in the breakroom, at the DMV, waiting for a plane, sitting on a bus, even standing in line at the checkout. There are lots of places without computers and that are not your retail store. All these other places are opportunities to connect with your customer and create new sales.

“This is another valuable tool for us to reach both existing and new customers with the compelling lifestyle content we offer via HSN TV as well as the broad array of quality products available at hsn.com,” says Brian Bradley, executive vice president/general manager of online and advanced services at HSN. HSN points out that this is possibly the first case of a Live Video “Third Screen”, referring to simultaneous live video on television, computers and now mobile phones.

However, the focus on booking sales in the mobile channel is arguably far more important to the overall mobile commerce industry.

Ecommerce companies are struggling with how best to adapt the web shopping cart metaphor to mobile commerce. Doing business on mobile phones adds additional difficulty because of the fragmentation of technologies (like SMS, browsers & applications) and devices (iPhone, Android, etc.). The successes and failures of the HSN application and others like it will be useful to the industry as a whole.

Industry best practices are still in the incubation stage. Organizations going it alone generally must figure out all the details using trial and error and often with very little objective data or mobile experience as a guide.

This challenge is why more organizations will seek help from outside experts like my firm Mobile Strategy Partners. At least for now, Mobile Commerce is more complicated than ecommerce was in the 1990s. As a veteran of ecommerce and now mobile commerce, I have seen the organizational struggles and the expensive mistakes that could have been prevented.

Mobile Commerce is evolving faster than ecommerce did. More and more organizations are looking for help in getting the product mix right earlier and get to ROI faster.

They’re doing it because if they don’t, their competitors will.

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