Exclusive to Paybefore. January 2013.
The new year is ten days old, so its not too late to make a few resolutions to do things differently than you have in the past. But I’ll leave the diet advice or nicotine warnings to others, and instead focus on how you can improve instead in an area that - with rare exception - every company needs a little coaching: mobile payments. This year, resolve to make mobile payments an engaging, intuitive option that makes users feel it was not just an afterthought in some Tuesday afternoon IT meeting. Here are five resolutions to improve mobile payments. Now put the donut back.
1. Quit Making Smartphone Users Type
Mobile commerce has largely evolved from ecommerce. That’s good because issues like secure forms have been addressed for years. But its also bad because a lot of the worst habits of ecommerce form design have carried over to mobile. Don’t just apply forms to a mobile phone and expect users to respond well. Specifically, look for any step in the purchase process that you can store a user’s information so they don’t have to type (yes, even Blackberry users with their beloved plastic keys). If I trust you enough to make a purchase, why is the order form the first time I’m telling you where I live, or my credit card information? Learn from iTunes - a billion transactions per month across hundreds of thousands of stored credit cards and the only input from the user is a password.
But this takes time and effort to earn users trust, which leads us to...
2. Lose the Idea Mobile Payments are a Standalone Strategy
Mobile purchases require trust. Trust requires a long, deliberate effort to earn repeat uses of the brand’s mobile app. Many brands, however, just expect that because a user has the option to buy with a phone - either at point of sale or m-commerce transactions - they will choose this option. This is not a strategy. Instead, find ways to engage users long before they need to use an app to buy something. This can be as simple as a store locator or a price comparison tool or a branded feature, such as loan calculator that is provided as a free app from a bank.
To repeatedly engage users, you’ll need to...
3. Teach Yourself That Mobile Does Not Mean Miniature Websites
The sad truth of the massive number of app downloads is that most apps aren’t actually apps at all. Instead, they are shrunken websites, and don’t really do anything for the user that a PC at your desk can’t do. This is a missed opportunity, but will start to be how “mobile native” brands separate themselves, just as top brands in the early 2000s stood out from web laggards. Spend time understanding the use cases specific to mobile and be prepared to accept that the 5 to 15 second interaction with an app may be completely different than any other media channel, including standard web browsers.
Of course, to do this you’ll need to...
4. Spend Less Time Waiting for Mobile to Go Away
Many companies, especially in stalwart industries like banking, take the über-conservative approach that mobile is a fad, a toy, or something for their kids. I was told this week by a rep of a large technology firm that “real work” required a PC and not an iPad. This near-sightedness virtually guarantees that a mobile startup or existing competitor with more savvy in how to leverage mobile will be taking your market share in the next five years. Mobile is the most significant shift in computing since the mainframe to PC transition, and users, customers, and your employees will never return to not having these devices. Yes, in raw numbers mobile purchases will lag cash and plastic, but this belies the fact that mobile will be driving use of these old transaction methods, too.
And lastly, if you really want to have a better year in mobile, start to...
5. Help Users With Their Problems, Not Yours
Many apps, especially those with a commerce component, are terrible in both design and execution because they are clearly made to serve an internal goal of the company or some tracking metric, not solve a problem for customers. Work backwards from solving difficult problems for users that can be uniquely addressed with a mobile device. If you do this, you’ll earn users trust and attention and the conversions, transactions, and other metrics will follow.