Mobile Chat:The Ultimate Tool for CRM

Why mobile chat is worth $19 billion? 

When Whatsapp sold for $19 billion, there were collective gasps around the world. Why did Facebook pay so much for glorified SMS, that is neither email nor a voice call? And why are there so many mobile chat applications (Line, Viber, WeChat, Kakao, Kik, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and on and on); each with so many users? At Melltoo, we’ve always known the power of mobile chat and that’s why we built it into our app.

We believe that our in-app chat combined with our new Melltoo Pay&Ship Secure service (which allows us to handle payment and delivery on your behalf) makes for a very powerful shopping experience. But why is that? Mobile chat is not simply the ugly stepchild of email and voice calls; nor the cheap step-sister of SMS. It is the Cinderella of modern day communications; a whole new way of communicating, a singularity if you will. With chat, you combine the benefits of asynchronous written communication with that of synchronous voice communication.

Mobile chat puts SMS, emails, and voice calls to shame

Chat can take place “live” like a voice call; this allows for banter and quick back and fortemoticons_melltooh communication that effectively conveys meaning. Chat can also take place “offline”; parties don’t engage in real-time, but receive and respond to messages after some time has passed. This makes chat better than both emails and voice calls. Can you have an instant live conversation over email? Good luck looking through the tabs to figure out what was said previously. On the flip side, if you miss a call, can you answer it 2 hours later?

Mobile chat is much more than glorified SMS. Emoticons help convey the “body language” that is missing from written communications. (where’s the “thumbs up” emoticon when I need it?) The ability to send photos and videos makes communication “social”. You can share moments of your life in real-time. Unlike posting a picture to Facebook and getting ‘likes’ hours or days later, sending a picture via chat garners “awwww…that’s so cute!” responses instantly.

Mobile chat builds stronger relationships

Mobile chat is with you everywhere you go. You are never offline which means that you are always “close by”, just a message away. And even when you don’t respond, the other party knows that you will see the message eventually. The connection with your chat interlocutors is perpetual, which means you are closer to your chat friends than people you see in real life. Think about the co-worker who you see daily. Compare her with your ex-co-worker who you haven’t seen in years, but chat with regularly. Who do you feel closer to?

Chat is “low cost” not only financially, but mentally and emotionally as well. SMS costs an arm and a leg. Writing an email requires “Dear” and “Best regards” along with proof-reading and formatting. Making a phone call requires you to stop whatever else you’re doing. Chat, on the other hand, is low overhead. It’s (almost) free, and doesn’t require deep thought nor undivided attention. The quick and constant banter allows users to build up stronger relationships than would take place without chat. You can correct misunderstandings, elaborate, yell, thank, gush, and apologize; all in one conversation spanning just minutes. You also have the ability to re-read before sending, unlike saying something that cannot be unsaid. And you have the benefit of a chat history to revisit a conversation when necessary.

Chat for CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

The benefits of chat in a social setting are easily carried over to a business setting. Chat is the ultimate tool for customer relationship management.

Never miss a customer’s call

Gone are the days when customers would patiently wait on hold for service. These days, they won’t call to begin with, they’ll go straight to Twitter or Facebook because calling is just too high in overhead. Hence, when a customer’s call is not answered, you’ve lost the customer; because he called your competitor when he wasn’t able to reach you. Only a highly motivated customer would call back. With chat, even if you weswitchboard operator_melltoore not online when the customer sent the message, once you see the message, you can re-engage with the customer who might have all but abandoned. Think about it: how many phone calls can you answer at the same time? Now think about how many chat conversations you can have at the same time.

By the way, people are less upset when a chat response is delayed than when a phone call goes unanswered. This is because they had to make time to call you, setting aside existing tasks. With chat however, they didn’t have to invest much effort and the “internet down” excuse is still valid today. Interestingly enough, before I call someone, I usually send a chat message first asking if she’s available to talk on the phone. And after I’ve sent an email, I inevitably follow up by sending a chat message telling the receiving party to check his email.
Keep track of customer requests

If you are a salesperson dealing with multiple customers throughout the day, one of the greatest challenges is to keep track of who said what. With chat, all that is said can be retrieved from your chat history. Your own words are also recorded, which means less chance of error and misunderstanding. Ever “accidentally” quote someone a higher price than what was previously quoted?

Know exactly what customers want

A picture is worth a thousand words. A video is worth a million. And chat is worth $19B! Imagine you are a wedding planner at your florist, about to order table centerpieces for a client. This client happens to see a bouquet centerpiece that she’s decided she absolutely must have for her wedding. She snaps a picture and sends it to you instantly. You adjust your order accordingly and it’s done. Imagine the same scenario over the phone or via email. Your client probably wouldn’t have been able to properly describe what she saw and if she had sent an email with a photo attachment, you would have seen it only after ordering the centerpieces.

Build Human Relationships

Chat is familiar and comfortable. It puts people at ease as much as face-to-face communications make people uncomfortable (is there spinach in my teeth?). This means that in a relatively short time, sales people can establish a stronger relationship with customers; and relationships are what bring customers back.If you are not already using mobile chat for CRM, then you’d better start. At Melltoo, we are so convinced by mobile chat that we built it into our app. Not only can you buy and sell quickly and socially on Melltoo, it’s built upon the most engaging technology of today–mobile chat!

The Instagram Shopping Experience Explained

What in the world is the Instagram shopping experience?

Have you heard of Instagram shopping? If you were born before 1985, chances are you’ve probably never heard of it. Instagram shopping is a phenomenon that’s taking the world of under 30s by storm. And this is particularly so in the developing world, a huge hit in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. But isn’t Instagram a photo-sharing app? (Yes.) Did they pivot to become an m-commerce app? (No.) Instagram is a social network based on photo-sharing. They don’t offer an m-commerce platform. So what exactly is Instagram shopping?

The Explanation

Instagram shopping experience is the fine art of ‘discovering’ beautiful and ‘exclusive’ items for sale by other users of Instagram. It is based on the #hashtag system, which originated on Twitter, but now is ce-commerce_report_bangkok_startup_04ommonplace across social networks. Shoppers begin by searching certain hashtags, such as #dubaifashion. The infamous Instagram wall displays all publicly shared photos tagged with this hashtag. The majority of these are personal photos by individuals; but mixed in are photos that showcase a certain brand (Instagram marketing) and photos of items that people have posted for sale (Instagram shopping). Interested users can take a closer look at these product photos, ‘like’ the photos and ‘comment’ on the photos. If users wish to purchase, the next step is to contact the seller who posted the photo, typically through Whatsapp (Whatsapp numbers are posted on seller profile pages). Finally, goods and money are exchanged either in person or through courier service. That’s it in a nutshell. So what’s the big deal? What does Instagram shopping offer that traditional e-commerce doesn’t?

Answer: The Web 3.0 Experience

Mobile-first, mobile-only

First off, Instagram shopping is mobile-first and mobile-only. If you don’t know the difference between m-commerce and eCommerce, then you should read this. Instead of going shopping, shopping goes with you. A mobile-first, mobile-only platform means that users are always online. Unlike the computer, you don’t really log-out of anything on a smartphone. This means that users of a mobile-only platform are always connected. This is what makes mobile social interaction so engaging. It’s always on. Visually-pleasing Users today EXPECT a visually-pleasing experience. Instagram shopping is a visually-pleasing experience. As opposed to traditional e-commerce photographs that showcase products functionally (think amazon.com, souq.com, gap.com etc), Instagram product photos are whimsical, exotic, glamourous (think magazine photo shoot). Instagram product photos (not all, but the good ones) are content themselves, not a means to an end. On the other hand, traditional e-commerce product photos are a means to get buyers to click “add to shopping cart”. Instagram shopping is true “online window shopping”, because browsing Instagram product photos is enjoyable in and of itself.

The process of discovery

Instagram shoppers don’t typically go to any one “Instagram store” when shopping. The shopplist-item-for-saleing is an incidental occurrence of browsing photos grouped by a certain hashtag. For instance, I just searched for #Cairo and a wall of photos was displayed. The one that caught my eye was a picture of rows of yummy-looking cupcakes. I tapped on the photo and discovered that it was put up by “The #1 gourmet bakery in Egypt”. They have a whole wall of photos of colorful and delectable pastries that can be made to order. This process of discovery is what keeps Instagram shoppers coming back. Firstly, you never know what you are going to find, so there’s the thrill of the hunt. And secondly, there is a sense of exclusivity because the products aren’t always easy to find.

Social interaction

Instagram is after all a social network built on photo-sharing, so social interaction is a key component of the Instagram shopping experience. Here the ‘like’ and ‘comment’ features are what engages users. Buyers can see how many other users liked a particular item which triggers a “keeping up with the Jones” complex. They can also see what others are saying about the item and engage in the public conversation as well. When new comments are made, they get a push notification on their phone which keeps them coming back to the item. They can also share the item to other social networks and hopefully get their friends to engage as well.

The Problems with Instagram Shopping

So now you know what makes the Instagram shopping experience different from traditional e-commerce. And you might well be toying with the idea of becoming an Instagram seller. However, while Instagram is a great tool for socializing and marketing a brand, it really isn’t built for m-commerce and actual selling.

Problem 1: Keeping track of product listings/catalog, and finding specific items

Each user’s Instagram wall is just a bunch of photos listed in backward chronological order, with the latest photos posted first. Photos have captions that are searchable only by hashtags. As a seller, you can’t maintain a proper catalog because you can’t name items and there really isn’t a consistent place to put a price. As a buyer who isn’t in “discovery mode”, if you are looking for a specific item, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Problem 2: Keeping track of buyers and sellers

Buyers can search for sellers by username (if they know it) and retrieve seller info if they’ve “followed” a particular seller. Sellers can do the same with buyers. However, the complexity arises when users begin to follow a large number (hundreds or even thousands) of other users. At this point, it’s nearly impossible to figure out which seller was selling that particular item you wanted to buy without having to go through each user profile one by one. The same problem exists on the seller’s side: how to track down the interested/repeat buyer to offer a discount?

Problem 3: Communications and Logisitics

Instagram does not offer any private communication tools beside the direct photo-sharing feature. So sellers encourage buyers to contact them on mobile messaging apps like whatsapp. A typical conversation goes like this…

Buyer: “Hi, I saw your item on Instagram.”

Seller: “Which one?”

Buyer: “The shoes.”

Seller: “Which shoes?”

Buyer: “The sandals with the gold trim.”

Seller: “You mean the flats or the heels?”

You get the idea. More time is spent going back and forth trying to figure out which item is at stake than time spent on buying and selling. Can you only imagine if the buyer wanted to purchase several items at the same time?

The Future of m-commerce: Melltoo

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Press on the picture to learn more!

The Instagram shopping experience provides the blueprint for the m-commerce experience of the future. It is unlikely that the under 30s of today will continue to be satisfied with the current shopping experience offered by e-retailers. And yet Instagram is not optimized as a shopping platform. Melltoo was built to fill this gap. Melltoo is a mobile app that offers the Instagram-shopping experience with whatsapp built-in. Melltoo has reproduced the Instagram shopping experience by being mobile-first/only, visually-pleasing and by enhancing the process of discovery and social interaction. Melltoo also goes a step further to address the problems with Instagram shopping by providing a beautiful and intuitive interface to keep track of product listings, find specific items quickly and easily, and keep track of buyers and sellers. Melltoo also has a built-in private chat for ultimate social engagement, in-app payment AND delivery. Say goodbye to e-commerce 2.0. Welcome to m-commerce 3.0.   

 

The M-Commerce Revolution

Remember ebay? Yes, that was a while back. When ebay first came on the scene, it was the e-commerce revolution! All the little guys could now sell online. Whether you were online or offline, you now had a platform for an e-store. You finally had an answer to all those customers that asked if you had an online store. And then came the e-commerce platforms that provided turn-key solutions for an online e-store. Just select a template, upload your catalog and you’re ready to go. Well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but your e-store is no longer enough, it’s time to go mobile.

Why You Need an m-Store: Selling on Mobile

Worldwide, 30% of ecommerce site traffic came from mobile in 2013. Souq.com, the Amazon, of the MENA region recently revealed that 40% of its sales (and growing) come from mobiles. They predict that mobile will be the main way to shop by 2015. All over the world, all eyes are turning to mobile, with Facebook declaring itself a mobile-first company along with their acquisition of Whatsapp (a mobile-only messaging platform) for a whopping $19B. If you’re still not convinced that mobile is the way to go, then you should stop reading.

There are already many on the cutting edge who have taken to Instagram to set up their m-stores. And you know what? They are doing great. But Instagram is a photo-sharing app, not an m-commerce platform. And I can hear others now proudly boasting about their mobile responsive website. Sorry, but responsive just doesn’t cut it. Consumers prefer native apps, enough said. And an icon on their phone reminds them to go shopping, while a web browser on a phone takes the user everywhere but to your responsive website.

How is the mobile shopping experience different?

You might still be scratching your head and wondering: what makes the mobile shopping experience different? The answer is: the mobile phone. The mobile phone is with you everywhere you go. You pull it out of your pocket or purse at every dull moment in your day. You push the home button and you’re instantly connected. You can’t do this with a laptop. With the mobile, you can shop on demand; you can shop for the bag you just saw on a billboard as you whizzed by on the metro. You can do price research for the vacuum cleaner for which you are standing in line to pay for. The mobile is a tool for instant communication, it is always on and always with you. Imagine chatting with a salesperson as you browse his store catalog while sitting at the doctor’s waiting room. The mobile is a tool for social interaction, you take pictures and videos, share them with friends, comment on things your friends share with you on a plethora of different social networks right on one device. In the shopping context, you can ask your friends for recommendations and advice on purchases as you shop. Shopping on the mobile is an engaging experience that cannot be replicated on the web.

What should you look for in a m-store platform? 

So at this point, you see the need to start selling on mobile. Assuming you are not amazon.com, you probably don’t have the resources or time to devote to building your very own m-commerce app. Instead, you want a turnkey solution that will allow you to get started instantly. In order to leverage the mobile shopping experience to grow sales, here are some things you should look for in an m-store platform.

  • It’s a native app – Native apps use phone hardware like the camera, location services, and integration with other apps in ways that a “responsive website” doesn’t.
  • The app looks good and is easy/stupid to use – UI/UX is very important when your screen is only 4-5 inches long. If the app is not dead simple to use, say hello to the uninstall button.
  • The platform is social – By this, I do not mean that it has a share to Facebook button. Share button does not social make. When I say social, I mean that a community can be formed within the app because the app has “public spaces” for users to engage in. Often, this means an activity feed, comments, likes/shares, and follows. Think Twitter or Instagram.
  • It has a built-in chat platform – Nothing is more powerful than mobile chat, it is a medium of communication that has taken the world by storm. Don’t take my word for it, just think Whatsapp at $19B.

Download the Melltoo app and checkout how we have integrated all of these things to make m-commerce easier than ever in the UAE!

Go forth and sell on mobile. Welcome to web 3.0.