Amazon, Great Clips share advice for developing a best-in-class mobile experience

| by Judy Mottl
Amazon, Great Clips share advice for developing a best-in-class mobile experience

Curtis Ford, market planning and strategy leader for salon brand Great Clips, offers up insight at the recent CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit held in Chicago.

When it comes to creating a best-in-class mobile experience it's about testing and learning, adjusting to new marketing form factors and tapping high quality data as there is no crystal ball to see the future.

"A/B testing is a good way to look into data and what you’re trying to build," explained Catherine Tabor, CEO of Sparkfly. Tabor shared her insight during a panel session she moderated at the CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit hosted by Networld Media Group in Chicago last week.

The panel featured Mark Tan, Amazon senior product manager, Curtis Ford, who heads up mark planning and strategy for salon franchise, Great Clips, and Jeremy Martin, senior VP of business development at 3CInterative.

Martin said a big focus for 3CInteractive clients is a mobile coupon program and driving loyalty strategy.

"You need to test and learn and start small," advised Martin, "and look for key indicators and get data to improve it over time. Data is a critical part," he said. "The customer expectations are ahead of where companies are in terms of operational process," he added.

At Great Clips, a salon franchise which launched its online check-in service in 2011, customers are looking for mobile as a replacement for traditional customer service, said Ford. The online check-in service is available at 3,300 of the brand’s 4,000 salons in the U.S. and Canada.

"That is the experience consumers are seeking, people want to get what they want. Customers expect you to remove the friction — check-in online, pay with mobile," Ford said.

One best practice, noted Martin, is to use mobile to improve existing processes and "reinvent" business processes. But the key, noted Amazon’s Tan, is to need to know what the goals are when it comes to engagement, traffic, profit.

"You must start with the customer in mind," said the Amazon product manager.

Great Clips, noted Ford, isn’t new to understanding the value of data and how it plays into the mobile experience customers now expect.

"We started collecting data 35 years ago and we rely on a data partner due to the huge amount," he explained.

Deploying technology in a retail environment, according to Tan, is directly tied to, and depends on the form factor. As today’s consumers are increasingly relying on mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets in the retail environment, retailers must take that into consideration.

"You have to adjust the software as the device changes," he noted.

And the changes will be continuous given the advent of wearables and virtual reality devices coming into play.

"Devices are so powerful now," noted Martin, citing the use of beacons as one example. "It’s exciting as we continue at the edge of mobile technology."

Great Clips, said Ford, is focused heavily on proximity marketing, and the devices that are reshaping the mainstay form factors.

"Anything that is customer focused we will look at."

During the session’s question-and-answer segment, Amazon’s Tan noted that one challenge with data in crafting a best-in-class mobile experience is the amount being collected, stored and analyzed.

"There is an overload with data," he acknowledged. "We’re not there yet where we have a full contextual view. It’s still not perfect and we need to work on that," he said.

Ford also acknowledged challenges with mobile coupon initiatives, noting "technology exists but there are constraints holding it back."

"The challenge is to innovate in the franchise organization and it’s a challenging environment. Mobile is outpacing us but we’re doing good," he said.

The mobile experience, Ford added, is key to retention and the return of customers as nearly half of customers are using the franchise’s mobile online check-in capability.

"That’s pretty significant but we want more to use it," he said.

For more insight shared at the CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit check out these stories:

IoT remains early stage tech in boosting customer experience

Walmart Pay doesn't need loyalty and that's ok

Pizza Hut digital leader Baron Concors talks mobile strategy, best practices

The simple solution for retailers: Be channel agnostic

Wal-Mart SVP: Mobile pay exceeding expectations, meeting consumers' needs

5 tidbits from the CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit

Topics: CONNECT: The Mobile CX Summit, Consumer Behavior, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Marketing, Mobile Payments, Mobile Retail, Online Retailing, Retail - General, Technology

Companies: Amazon

Judy Mottl

Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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