By: Julian King (Senior VP of Marketing and Corporate Development, Xoom)
Nine years ago, I first used a web application to send money to my mother overseas. From San Francisco, I was able to select an amount and destination in a few clicks of the mouse, and in two hours my mother had cash delivered to her door in Kingston, Jamaica. At the time, this was technologically amazing and the pinnacle of convenience, and it is part of the reason I joined Xoom shortly after.
Today, I can complete this process in seconds with a few swipes of my mobile phone or tablet while on my walk to work or in line for coffee. Business today has truly gone mobile, and digitally savvy consumers expect to be able to accomplish any online task smoothly and instantaneously from their mobile device.
In the nine short years since I first sent my mother money digitally, mobile has emerged as a key channel to do business. More than 1 billion smartphones shipped in 2013 and over 2.23 billion people worldwide were projected to access the Internet via mobile monthly in 2014. Today, Xoom sees nearly 50 percent of our business originate from mobile devices, and we expect this number to continue to grow unabated.
Nine years from now, who knows what new mobile innovations will define the market for a new generation of consumers. The bottom line for businesses, however, is that you need to figure out mobile in order to remain viable over the long term.
Here are three of the biggest lessons we’ve learned about mobile over the last few years at Xoom since introducing our first mobile optimized site.
1. Mobile is a powerful tool for customer acquisition and retention
When designed with the customer in mind, your mobile experience can be at the center of your customer acquisition and retention strategy. This customer-centric approach is part of our philosophy and it should be for all businesses in this day and age.
We’ve invested heavily in mobile over the last few years because it helps new customers choose us and existing customers stay with us. We’re deep believers that if we deliver customers a simple and easy-to-use experience, they will keep coming back.
Informing your mobile experience with a deep understanding of your customers’ needs will position your business at an advantage. At Xoom, we’re focused on relentlessly improving our mobile offerings. For example, the money transfer business used to be an industry where consumers were underserved. Mobile has changed that dynamic, and now we’re able to use mobile technology to give consumers a superior experience they never expected. Making our mobile experience fill a need consumers didn’t know they had helps customers choose to do business with us and remain loyal over the long term.
Today our customers know they can interact with our products on any channel – mobile phone, tablet, or the traditional web - and not miss a beat.
2. Know your customers
You simply cannot provide a good customer experience if you don’t know your customers. Designers and businesses in general often fall into the traps of designing for themselves or designing for a generic customer that is not based on extensive research. In the first trap, things can be over-complicated quickly, and in the latter, businesses can miss the mark completely because they’ve blinded themselves to the realities of their customer base.
Over the years we’ve identified some very interesting and unexpected insights from our mobile customers. Initially we thought that users who had the most high-tech jobs and backgrounds would be the biggest mobile users, but the reality is entirely the opposite. The more technologically sophisticated customers are more numerous on desktop, while those in markets that aren’t as technologically advanced are over-indexed on mobile.
As a result, we’ve had to learn and adapt from this. We were already focused on delivering simplicity over complexity, and we refocused on these efforts after developing an understanding of how consumers actually use our mobile products.
3. Embrace a multichannel mindset
All users are different. Some prefer the larger screen experience of computers and tablets while others want the convenience of sending from the mobile web or a native mobile app. Many digitally-savvy customers want the ability to switch channels during their journey and not miss a beat. At Xoom, we have a diverse customer base with a large proportion of cross-channel usage, and we’ve built for all these experiences as a result.
As we’ve made significant investments to build a compelling mobile experience for our customers, it is important to maintain a multichannel mindset that allows for this type of multiscreen behavior. For example, repeat users of our mobile app will find their information stored so it is easy to replicate transactions in just two taps.
To meet these multichannel needs, there is strong benefit to partnering with a mobile technology provider that is integrated with your IT organization so the benefits of mobile expertise and infrastructure translates across all applications -- including the mobile web and apps. Our partner Usablenet helps us achieve an agile mobile strategy while also ensuring that our precious IT resources are able to focus on the critical performance and security needs of the business.
We are in the midst of a significant transition in the money transfer industry, which recalls book selling before Amazon and video rentals before Netflix. The industry is ripe for disruption and we believe that Xoom is on the cutting edge of this movement. We’re excited to see what the future holds, but in the meantime, we will continue to innovate and offer customers a simple, user-friendly mobile experience.