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If You Give the Consumer a Mobile Option, You Better Make Sure it Works



Last year, Shopkick was my favorite holiday shopping app. I used it every time I stepped into a partner store to claim my points and locate discounts. Or rather, that was my intention. I ended up spending endless minutes wandering around the front door of the various stores waiting for the app to recognize my location. You know the look – walking with your cell phone held up in front of you, turning left, right, stepping here, then there – it’s embarrassing and I was probably blocking traffic.

Then I went into the store and tried to use the bar code scanner to claim more points. Alas, my cell reception dropped out. I was in a Best Buy, the top tech chain in the US and I couldn’t get a signal. There was no free Wifi and I was told that there were only a few clean hot spots in the store. Of course, these spots weren’t anywhere near where I needed to be.

The final straw was when I went to the counter to check out and told the cashier I wanted to use my Shopkick number so I’d get credit for the dollars spent. Alas, no one in the store could figure out how to make that happen. So I started out frustrated and was all the way to furious by the time I left.

I could blame Shopkick, but they were kind enough to add points to my account for my troubles. Instead, I blamed Best Buy. They put the promotion out there, so shouldn’t they make sure it works? At the very least, the staff should be trained to accept the discounts at check-out.

According to eMarketer, Millennials are more likely to blame the brand when the tech doesn’t work.

Note that Baby Boomers were more forgiving and I’d bet that’s because they assume it’s their own inability to work the tech.

On the upside, 43% of Millennials said they’ll use a text code to get more information and 51% were open to using QR codes.

But an equal number said they get frustrated when those codes don’t work. And what happens when they get frustrated? They walk out without buying and if they’re angry enough, they may not come back again.

Yes, I know that sounds extreme. Two years ago, we didn’t even think about using our mobile phones to help us shop in a store. But now that the option is there, it needs to work. If it doesn’t work every time you test it, then fix it or remove it. People won’t be annoyed by the lack of a QR code, but wasting time trying to trigger one will set them right off.

For those of you who run online only outlets, this applies to you, too. Test your web links on a regular basis, buy things with your shopping cart, access the site with your mobile phone. Don’t lose a sale because the webmaster broke the shipping link when he updated the fees.

Customers won’t give you a second chance to get it right.