In this episode of Coffee + Commerce, Mike Hann, EVP of Revenue at Fabric and the co-founder of Poq, joins us to discuss how brands and retailers can grow commerce through mobile with headless commerce, APIs, and good design.
Mike made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the Retail and E-commerce category while growing Poq, an app commerce company. Before Poq, Mike was an e-commerce consultant at ChannelAdvisor and the head of e-commerce at Xerox.
To learn how to grow mobile commerce in 2021 based on Mike's experience, listen to this episode of Coffee + Commerce and get key takeaways in the blog post below.
What got you interested in mobile e-commerce and app commerce?
- Mike was an early adopter of mobile himself and saw how much potential there was for it to power e-commerce.
- Even though mobile only accounted for one percent of digital sales at the time, it was becoming more and more popular and Mike knew the market was trending toward mobile.
- Since mobile was the go-to, on-the-go channel for himself, Mike believed early on that there was opportunity for mobile to be greater than one percent of all online transactions.
- Note: Mobile commerce was thought to be around 45% of total US e-commerce sales at the end of 2020.
Were you mostly focused on desktop and browser e-commerce at Xerox or did you experiment with mobile as well?
- After completing the e-commerce platform build for Xerox there was panic because the menu didn’t work on iPad. But it just wasn’t as big of a channel as desktop at the time.
- With Xerox being B2B, most users were on desktop anyway.
- Mike’s advice for today is: There are a lot of trends within iOS vs. Android. Even though people may think they need both apps, they probably do not. For instance, they may have 90% of users on iOS, so it’s a better choice to build for iOS first. While doing this, continue to watch other device behavior (ie. Android).
How did you co-found Poq?
- While at ChannelAdvisor, Mike began taking an 8-week evening course on building mobile apps that integrate with Facebook APIs.
- While working on a group project, Mike met someone who was an ex-designer and technologist who was building out the early stages of what became Poq.
- Even though it was tough to leave ChannelAdvisor and dive into a startup, Mike joined his co-founder and dove straight in.
How did you grow Poq?
- The Poq team initially thought they were going to be like the Shopify for mobile apps and mostly serve SMEs. They assumed all the big enterprises wanted to do in-house or big agency builds.
- However, after going through an RFP process with a $2B retail business, they realized what they built was very relevant for the pains of enterprises that had built a custom mobile app.
- Since they had built Poq tech from the ground up and were cloud-native SaaS, they could help even the largest enterprises build for mobile and scale.
How do you integrate a mobile app with an existing commerce platform?
- It used to be very difficult, especially when trying to integrate apps with Hybris or Magento. You would have to do a lot of heavy lifting to get it to work.
- Today, the beauty of headless means you’ve got all the information you need to power a mobile app via API already, so it’s much easier.
- More importantly, now, the mobile experience can be really consistent with other channels.
When should businesses introduce a mobile app?
- It’s a case-by-case decision for a business, and it depends on what the use case of the mobile app is.
- Poq had a few metrics they would use as proxies, like revenue size of the business. For example, they thought you may need to be doing $10M online for the economics of a mobile app to make sense.
- Conversely, there may be a good case where you might not be making $10M, but a mobile app would uniquely solve that problem. User behaviors can be a good indicator, too.
Do you think we are at a point where augmented reality can be seamlessly built into mobile?
- It’s not seamless quite yet. Even though we have made a lot of progress, there’s still a big barrier to take out your phone and use AR.
- A mixed reality world where somebody is almost seemingly in front of you, showing you a product and explaining it, is much more personal and interactive than using a website, and that idea is exciting.
Once you have a mobile app, how do you start driving traffic to it?
- The biggest surprise that most people have when they develop a mobile app is the organic demand.
- The minute the app is put in the app store and people see it in your email footer or website footer, it will be downloaded, and driving people toward the app is no longer intrusive like it used to be.
- So, try a soft-launch and see the traction you get, then once you understand the experience you will get better metrics.
What are some app commerce tools to complement the app in terms of analytics?
- There are subtle differences with web, but a lot of the usual suspects in analytics apply to mobile. Like, with Google Firebase, if you install their SDK and run it on your website, there are good analytics between the two.
- Mobile-centric companies like Branch and Braze and other SDKs in mobile-specific tech will also boost the performance of your app.
What makes a mobile experience memorable?
- Mike often thinks in terms of being a consumer when interacting on mobile.
- There are really two types of users: those that are really busy, and those that are really bored.
- If they’re busy, you want to create a seamless environment where everything is saved. Apps that do this well are GrubHub, Uber, etc.
- For the bored consumer, you have to keep them engaged with an interesting feed. Apps like TikTok do this well.
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