Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mobile and retail

This post is contributed by Manjeet Singh Nagi

A few days back I had to renew my health insurance policy with one of the big insurance companies in India. The company’s call center executives were after me to renew the policy. Every time I told them that I would renew and requested them not to bug me but they would not relent. Finally on the dooms day I entered the URL of the company on my cell phone and boom! All that their mobile website shows is a form for one to enter one’s contact details so that the company’s call center can call you back! Though it gives the user an option to browse a desktop version but who wants to keep on zooming and panning on a desktop site from mobile!

So much for the mobile strategy from the companies in India where the number of people accessing web from mobile has already surpassed those accessing from desktop. We are in an age and country where everyone blahblahs about how people would access internet only from mobile soon. And our companies still do not have a good strategy on mobile.

Let me go back to the case of the insurance company. Their mobile website is really from stone-age. Their website is equivalent of how companies had their desktop website in early phases of web 1.0( late 90s).

Going mobile or having a mobile strategy for companies should really mean
1. rethinking their business processes,
2. identifying a smaller of existing use cases that should go mobile,
3. identifying new use cases keeping mobile in mind,
4. making tasks easier for the user

The insurance company’s mobile strategy loses on the last criteria sorely. I agree that when a person buys an insurance policy he does a lot of research and mobile is not really an ideal platform for it. So company does not need to have a mobile strategy at this stage of purchase cycle.

But at the time of policy renewal, the customer is probably not going to do any research.The customer has already crossed all the stages of the buying cycle. He is in the last stage of buying cycle of post purchase behaviour. The relationship between the company and the customer is already established. All the user needs is a website to enter the policy number and make the payment. In today’s busy life a user would want to do such tasks definitely on the go.

If the company does not make it easier for a user to renew the policy on the go it is giving the user another chance to rethink about their choice(of the insurance provider) at the time of renewal. The customer may jump to an earlier stage of buying cycle. He may re-evaluate all the alternatives.  The easier a company makes it for a user to renew the lesser are the chance of it losing the customer. Its easier to make call center executives ten calls to a customer but it take innovating thinking to actually enable the customer to renew quickly! The company definitely selected an incorrect use case for their mobile strategy(criteria #2 above) which failed in making life easier for user(criteria#4).

Though the example is from insurance domain the lesson is for all the retailers. The companies really need to think their mobile strategy from scratch. They need to make life easier for customer to ensure they do not lose them. And think cross-platform purchase. Not many customers complete all the stages of purchase cycle on web. But enabling some of the stages of purchase cycle on mobile is definitely going to help the retailers.

Will be back with more!

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