We posted aÂ mobile commerce infographic earlier this week, and a comment from Pankaj Gabba really hit on one of the most insightful nuggets of that graphic: “80% of consumers abandon a mobile site if they have a bad user experience.”
Indeed, many mobile apps aren’t even apps; rather, they are basic copies of the web version. And those that are fully realized applications are not necessarily any better, lacking a clear focus on user experience and the desired outcome: a purchase.
In a recent blog post, Jeffrey Breen of Atmosphere Research GroupÂ laid out “3 keys to building a better mobile booking experience,” and got into the thick of the discussion on how apps can move beyond window dressing to becoming significant profit centers for OTAs and other travel operators.
It’s useful to frame this discussion by highlighting that Atmosphere’s research found that, among US leisure traveler smartphone users, 39% are interested in using their phones to book a hotel, 37% to book a flight and 34% to book a car.
Beyond booking travel, 49% would like to use their phones to book restaurant reservations or entertainment tickets, 46% to check into a hotel or airline flight, and 35% to book a sightseeing tour.
This information, outlined in the chart below, clearly shows a significant interest in using mobile phones to complete traditionally Web-based transactions.
Now let’s consider another intriguing statistic from the aforementioned infographic: 34% of mobile shoppers make $100,000 or more. Could it be that these 34% are the same ones interested in booking high-value travel on their mobile phones?
There’s not yet data to back that claim up, but using Orbitz‘s recent deployment of their re-engineered iPhone app as a case study is quite revealing. The OTA saw twice as many people – 6 million – shop on their mobile devices in May 2012 than a year earlier.
So what are they doing right?
Breen identifies three key concepts for building a better mobile experience. Let’s distill this “better mobile experience” into three concrete qualities of a world-class user experience on a mobile device:
1. It’s seamless
The screens are small, and the keyboards are even smaller – so why force users to suffer through repeated keystrokes every single time they want to book?
The most compelling mobile experience is virtually indistinguishable from booking online – account information comes pre-filled, the system remembers TSA-related details, credit cards can be stored for later use.
There’s absolutely no excuse to make a customer type out their full credit card information – number, expiration, billing address and all – when that information has been stored online.
Sure, requiring a CCV is acceptable, but demonstrating that the technology is incapable of interfacing securely with its servers is not going to make people feel safer – it will lead to a feeling ofÂ vulnerabilityÂ and distrust that any information is secure at all!
2. It’s smart
There’s no excuse for not leveraging the available data – most especially location – in a mobile application. No user wants to look at tonight’s availability for local Philadelphia hotels if they just booked a flight to Hawaii in 3 months!
Successful – ergo profitable – user experiences are smart andÂ adaptable; by taking advantage ofÂ data entered during both mobile and online sessions, in addition to booking histories across platforms, the best mobile interfacesÂ seamlessly deliver exactly what the user is looking for.
3. It’s straightforward
OTAs and other travel operators cannot possible hope to have a simple, straightforward experience if the technical and business teams are siloed.
This separation may lead to a lack of insight into the consumer’s needs, thus creating a user experience that stands in the way of the desired outcome – booking travel.
By integrating teams working across disciplines into one larger “mobile group,” organizations can most effectively build mobile tools that both play to their core competencies and satisfy consumers. This then sets the foundation for a thriving business on mobile devices.
The lesson here? If you’re going mobile, don’t just optimize your web presence – consider creating a wholly mobile-centric user experience that reduces friction and makes it easy to buy.
Give people what they want, when they want it, and how they want it – it’s simple, but it’s clearly working for big players like Orbitz.
NB: Smart Phone With Money image via Shutterstock