Mo' Mobile, Mo' Problems: 4 Lessons Learned

We hosted a great panel of speakers last week at our offices in San Francisco to talk about lessons learned from mobile commerce. We were joined by:

For those who couldn't make it, we wanted to highlight four great lessons we learned from our panelists.

Experiment with revenue early if building a more vertical mobile business. We asked Vasu about how Delectable thought about prioritizing mobile commerce, given the heart of the app is social. Vasu argued that for most "social" apps like WhatsApp or Snapchat, the market size must get to the tens or hundreds of millions before you can likely monetize. However, for something more vertical like wine, the addressable user market is more limited, so it made sense to parallelize monetization to learn about the wine industry and uncover additional opportunities that might be harder to act on if revealed later on. Understanding industry dynamics is even more important with mobile commerce - failing fast by building real revenue generating products can set you up for future success.

Sacrifice functionality when transitioning to mobile. Forget what you did on desktop -- reimagine the experience as if the web didn't already exist. It is hard for web-first companies to "get" mobile. We asked Rachit about how his firm helped clients through this. He talked about how many companies had a tough time with the mobile transition because they assumed if some feature exists on web, it must also now exist on mobile. Trying to cram every bit of a product detail page in a mobile format is usually un-wise.

Designing for the soccer mom can also help you capture millenials. The Ebates app is oriented for a demographic that's in their 40s and 50s. We asked Jason how a team in their 20s designed for this audience. He said that though it was clear early that Ebates' market skewed older and female, they continued to prioritize features that they thought would attract a young male demographic. When they finally accepted who their market was and actually built what that group wanted, the new features surprisingly also attracted the groups they wanted to target in the first place - young males! Accepting who your market is and explicitly designing for them is easier than getting them to fit the mold you create for them.

Want to delight your customers and keep them coming back? Give them a cookie and a handwritten note. Munchery did a ground-up re-launch of their mobile app that they launched in March of this year. An audience member asked how they continued to create high engagement. Adam responded that solid engagement begins first from great initial retention. As part of generating great retention, they focus intently on delivering a mobile commerce experience that delights off the bat -- their first delivery always includes a cookie and handwritten note. Its easy to forget about or delete an app that doesn't "wow" - make sure you "wow" on mobile like you do on web.

We had a great time with the speakers and the dozens of engineers, designers, and product managers who attended. We'd love to have you join our next get-together - to know when our next event will be, just email us!

Jay Parekh Jay is Director of BD, focusing on product partnerships such as PayPal One Touch, Apple Pay, and Android Pay, and driving merchant adoption of key strategic initiatives. More posts by this author

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