The demand for design and development of mobile commerce solutions is on the rise across the globe and won’t slow down anytime soon. As of 2015, research indicates that there were 1.6 million apps available for download in Google Play and 1.5 million on Apple App Store. The demand is especially high in Africa and Asia where mobile penetration is astoundingly high. It’s a daily routine across the world, with excited marketers and individuals waking up with an app dream and a mission to change the world. After weeks and weeks of development and burning resources, it soon dawns on the app owners that it was just an idea afterall with zero uptake. East Africa is even a more interesting market place where, with the success of M-PESA, an inset belief set in that ascribes to the school of thought that any M- christened mobile commerce initiative should be an instant hit. To that effect, logic almost states that East Africa has the highest concentration of M- christened mobile commerce solutions from m-duka to m-soko to m-insure to m-bank. Unfortunately it’s not been a smooth sailing at all and what we’ve witnessed is thousands and thousands of apps on various Stores with little or no downloads whatsoever. Without watering down on the success of the various mobile commerce initiatives in the industry, it’s worthwhile taking stock to understand why most mobile commerce initiatives have failed, especially on the mobile apps space. The first failing point of a mobile commerce strategy is to invest money and resources in developing a mobile platform without proven research that a need exists. As with any customer facing initiative, there needs to exist supporting research and customer demand that will warrant venturing into this space. An idea is not good enough and needs to be validated, quantified and qualified.
The second failing point is a mobile commerce strategy with no supportive marketing and awareness initiatives; the same strategies of promoting e-commerce portals apply to mobile commerce solutions. Users need to be sensitized and made aware that the solution exists and can be downloaded or accessed via a short code. It therefore follows that laying down a robust and thorough marketing strategy is of essence. It’s also worthwhile to note that most mobile commerce initiatives fail due to a lack of incorporating user experience aspects. When you consider that the attention span of a user using a mobile solution is less than ten seconds, compared to one accessing a website, then you appreciate the value of taking into account user experience. The latter takes into account all aspects of an end users interaction with the mobile solution and how easy it is to navigate and transact. If an end user is faced with multiple clicks and complex navigational journeys, it won’t take long before he proceeds to uninstall the app or unsubscribe if it’s a USSD based platform. A good user experience maximizes the chances of a user sticking longer to navigate and discover what the platform does and finally even transact. Lastly a mobile commerce strategy that doesn’t take into account a holistic encompassing approach is bound to fail; the bottom line is that a mobile strategy can’t work in silo and needs to integrate with other players in the ecosystem. This encapsulates such components like e-commerce and back end systems. It therefore follows that a good user experience and the look and feel within the e-commerce space should replicate on the mobile. To further enhance this integration, the ecosystem needs to connect to a common back end platform rather than have multiple domains. The end result is a myriad of customer facing touch points supported on mobile and web and achieving the same desired objectives of reaching the market place.
CEO, Project Dimensions Ltd