Mihir Shinde, a technology executive & entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience in the e-commerce space, says that the degree to which a mobile device can influence the buying decision of a user has never been greater.
Mihir is currently a Forbes Tech Council Member, a Royal Society Fellow as well as a Techstars Mentor. He currently works as the Head of Mobile Apps & Strategy for B&H Photo Video in New York. His work has been featured in both Apple’s WWDC and Google I/O conferences & he has written for Forbes in the past as well. In addition, he is also the cofounder of Nandoo – a one of a kind wellness ecommerce mobile app that is targeted for Indian Millennials.
The author of two books on e-commerce, took the time to speak to Fortune India Exchange about how the next big wave in mobile e-commerce is all about focusing on the micro-moments for mobile users.
Before we even address micro-moments, could you talk to us about the impact mobile devices have had on users from your experience working in this industry?
It’s simply astounding how much of a dependency we have on our smartphones nowadays.
Research has indicated that roughly 68% of smartphone users said that they check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning, & 30% admit that they feel anxiety when they don’t have their phone on them.
Whenever there’s a smidgen of a doubt in the consumer’s head, the first thing they do is whip out their smartphones & start conducting the research. Nowadays, when the consumer enters even the retail store, they mostly do so in an informed fashion often conducting a lot of research beforehand on their phones. In a way, the footsteps that consumers used to take throughout the store to go & peruse have been transformed to research conducted on mobile phones in this digital age.
Could you tell us about micro-moments & why they are important?
Micro-moment is a term that was coined by Google. They are basically moments where people reflexively turn to a device, which happens to be a smartphone nowadays more than anything, to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. These are intent driven moments where the probability of decisions being made is very high.
We do a lot more searches on mobile devices than on desktops. Whenever in doubt or if we need or want something, we go to our mobile devices. We check our phone approximately 150 times a day & spend roughly 177 minutes on it each day just rummaging through streams of digital content. These stats mean that mobile sessions average about 1 minute & 10 seconds long, several times a day. A lot of these moments consists of quick interactions such as uploading a video on Facebook, quickly WhatsApping someone, sending out an email whenever you have a few minutes from your daily routine, etc. which aren’t really the best time to engage with brands, primarily because if a brand does then it will simply be dismissed. Relevance is key. There are other moments, where users are open to being engaged by brands, moments such as when we want help making our choices or coming to decisions. These are the moments that brands have to be ready for.
How do companies need to adapt their marketing strategy in order to work with micro-moments?
Customization is very important here since it helps with key relevance. Companies need to really think about what the goal of the marketing strategy is & how they can work towards that goal by catching users during their research phase. Research phase for these users shows an intent & companies need to understand what the intent is so that they can target their marketing prowess accordingly.
One very important thing that I would like to mention is that it takes a whole hearted effort to get this going. Companies need to understand that you need cross functioning teams in order to make this happen since a lot of the tools, in order to get the whole job done well, lie with departments outside of marketing (e.g. Technology, Operations, Customer Service). Such a concerted effort is a must if the company needs to get the implementation right.
Does this mean that the non-mobile experiences, such as desktop, need to be less prioritized?
Nope! In fact, there is a role that desktop (and other avenues) still play. What mobile does is simply help get the user more informed & with companies taking advantage of micro-moments, hopefully they can help the user in making the decision. However, the conversion is something that may or may not happen necessarily on the mobile platform – it could very well happen on the desktop or perhaps even in-store.
In fact, research shows the following stats:
· 90% of people say they use multiple screens for everyday activities, such as booking a hotel or shopping for electronics
· 40% of people who research on a smartphone go on to purchase on a desktop
Instead of simply thinking of mobile & desktop separately, its users need to basically be thought of as belonging in the same bucket. Companies need to rethink about how they measure & evaluate the success of their micro-moment marketing strategy. Whatever users find online can influence their decisions up to the last second before a purchase is made. Nearly one in four shoppers have changed their mind about buying something while in the checkout line simply by reading something on their mobile devices. New conversion types must be accounted for & companies should really think about measurement in a way that takes cross channel into consideration. And like I mentioned before, organizing your teams around this new way of thinking is a must too.
In addition to being an expert in mobile e-commerce, you are also the brains behind creating Nandoo- a pretty unique wellness / e-commerce platform for Indian users. Tell us the thought process behind building it.
I came across a study by Cigna TKK that found out that nearly 95% of Indian millennials admitted to being stressed – most millennials than any other nation in the world! It’s an alarming statistic, especially for a nation that founded relaxation techniques like mindfulness, meditation and yoga. One of the biggest triggers for this was Work. After logging long working hours, they find it hard to juggle work and personal life. Millennials prefer jobs that helps boost their personal as well as professional skills. But when their work doesn’t allow that, it makes them dissatisfied and leads to stress. And so, I realized that while I couldn’t do anything about the type of job & satisfaction from it, I could leverage my mobile app & ecommerce experience to create a unique Wellness based app.
We looked into what are the simplest things missing from Indian millennials’ lives that could be very easy to do but help reap massive benefits. After conducting research, we felt the best most organized way to approach this would be to categorize & hit three main factors: Mind, Body & Soul. Again, we wanted to keep it simple to start off with, so we added one easy to do exercise for each factor. For example, for Mind, we added a section where we deconstruct a complex topic in a simple, easy to understand manner – WHY? So that when our Nandoo-ers go to work, they can contribute in those water cooler/ small talk conversations confidently.
For Body, we added a step tracker which you had to do for only 10 mins a day and utilize your efforts for an ecommerce experience wherein you get small gift cards for those efforts. For Soul, we added an intuitive breathing bubble which would help the millennials relax & de-stress.
Our goal behind this application is for the millennials to adopt & more importantly benefit from it. If we can just help bring that stress percentage down a bit, that would be a goal well met for us!
How do you see Nandoo extending and what are some of the mobile strategies you are currently leveraging for it?
We have received great traction for the application where we’re close to hitting 250k users in the span of just 6 months. This is an overwhelming response & we couldn’t have hoped for a better start. Most, if not all of this traction, has come through word of mouth.
Next on the horizon is to keep iterating on the app by listening to the Nandoo-ers’ feedback & build out features that we feel might add great value to the overall health & wellness of our Nandoo-ers. One immediate thing we are working on and hope to address shortly is how to cater for the varying internet connectivity regardless of location. This has been a herculean task, but we are loving what we are learning and excited to unveil it soon.
In the longer term, we want to start incorporating more advanced technological innovations, such as artificial intelligence & machine learning into the mix to help provide more personalized recommendations to our users so that they can get every last mile of benefits from Nandoo. We also want to keep the application more engaging & we feel that augmented reality has a huge part to play in it. The recent product announcements made by Apple & Google for mobile applications seem very promising, so the future looks bright on the mobile side for sure!