Episode 88
November 20, 2018

First Look: Mobile Optimization Study

The question of the day is "how can I turn mobile browsers into buyers"? The mobile optimization community initiative is helping answer this question by partnering with an engaged ecommerce community of retailers and systems integrators to test assumptions and deliver solutions for their clients. Listen now!

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Main Takeaways:

  • "We are now at the beginning of the experience economy".
  • Retailers are looking for a way to turn mobile browsers into mobile buyers.
  • Millennials seem to be at the forefront of a data revolution.
  • Mobile customers tend to commit to a purchase when they feel that their personal information is secure.
  • Can mobile-commerce really beat out desktop conversions?

How to Win Customers and Influence People to Purchase Mobily:

  • Paypal (Braintree), Magento, and Hi Conversion are working together, along with other merchants and system integrators on The Mobile eCommerce Optimization Initiative to share data on the best (and worst) practices in conversion to sales in the mobile-commerce space.
  • CEO of HI Conversion Zee Aganovic says that retailers took about 10-15 years to truly understand desktop-based (traditional) e-commerce.
  • According to Zee the invention of mobile brought new challenges as the mobile-commerce customer is entirely different.
  • Since individual merchants cannot handle the enormity of addressing their mobile-customer base by themselves (especially when they are competing with behemoths like Amazon), system integrators are teaming up to bridge the gap.
  • Fun fact: Mobile is quickly becoming a much bigger piece of retail revenue, on Black Friday, mobile-based sales accounted for almost 40%, even though Black Friday is much more of an in-store shopping holiday.
  • "This is all about experience economy + invent of mobile".
  • The purpose of this community is to immediately provide value to merchants, where they get access to experience optimization tools, and community data (on par with the largest e-commerce companies) on what actually works, and what doesn't.
  • Brian loves the idea of merchants sharing data to address markets because this makes it easier for merchants to achieve scalable results.
  • Also, Amazon apparently has teams to address 1-click optimization, and probably everything else.

Proper Data Usage Can Prevent Resource-Allocation Death Spirals:

Mobile vs. Desktop: Battle of The Buying Power:


  • Zee Aganovic of Hi Commerce
  • Hasan Elkomey of Redstage
  • Brent Peterson of Wagento

Phillip: [00:01:43] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip and we are bringing you a live episode. This is being brought to you exclusively by PayPal Braintree. And we are going to dive into a mobile optimization study that is being conducted by members of the eCommerce community and the Magento realm. And there is a live series of events, called Meet Magento, that take place all over the world. And we attended one, Brian and I, this past November. And we got to sit down with members of the Magento community and hear about this initiative that PayPal and Braintree and many others are sponsoring to help retailers understand how they can convert better on mobile and how they can serve their customers in a more fruitful way. So we're going to dive right in. We have three interviews here today, and we want to extend special thanks to PayPal and Braintree for making this possible.

Phillip: [00:02:38] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:02:42] I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:02:42] And today we are joined by none other than a Hi Conversion founder and CEO Zee Aganovic. Welcome to the show.

Zee: [00:02:50] Thank you. My pleasure.

Phillip: [00:02:51] We have been talking for many, many months now about the community focus oriented study that's being driven out of PayPal and Braintree about mobile optimization. And at the core of the study is the Hi Conversion technology and the methodology that you're bringing to measuring success in this community study. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Hi Conversion and also a little bit about the study?

Zee: [00:03:18] Yeah. So the the company itself is focused on creating better buying customer experience. It's quite a wide open area that includes testing, personalization, usability, many aspects that need to come together to produce directly measurable, high value results for merchants. So that's the mission for the company to be best known for the ability of our technology to adapt to customer preferences in real time. So this is intelligence solution that uses many options, many variables that merchants can put into the hopper, into the input side of our solution, to achieve directly measurable results in fully automated ways without babysitting, etc.. Whatever new idea, whatever option you want to explore, put it to the test. You have a live audience, and you get the feedback in real time results from your merchants. So that's what we do. But more importantly, why community? The experience is huge value. There's so many things that every merchant can do to improve results on a site. It took industry 10, 15 years to learn how to harness the traditional eCommerce. Internet driven, desktop based eCommerce. We are now at the beginning of the experience economy, where other things are becoming a commodity like the price, the other features, functionality, etc. It's about how visitor or potential customer is perceiving your brand. How would they experience it. A lot of intuitive that's not real functional, rational behavior. With the advent of mobile, the problem escalates further because mobile customer is a completely different kind, different breed. In the past, people would say, yeah, yeah, mobile guys are browsing. They go home and they buy on the desktop. What we are seeing is the emergence of mobile only customers. And ignoring mobile only customer that is growing by leaps and bounds is not something that any merchant can afford. So coming back to why community? Individual merchants, individual technology providers cannot solve this big problem quickly. Like we don't have another 10, 15 years to fuss around and figure things out. So we were fortunate enough to get industry partners like Magento, PayPal, and other system integrators to join forces, so that we can create collaborative environments where individual merchant system integrators are enabling experimentation, optimization on a large scale and quick learning that will be shared with everybody who participates. So that's like a long winded answer on why.

Phillip: [00:06:30] Well I asked you like four questions. So no, that's great. I'm curious. So  the community that you're referencing is a community of merchants. But it's also, like you said, there's technology providers, there are system integrators. Give me a little insight into how that approach gives... Do you feel like that approach gives you greater access to merchants or allows them to connect the solution to the outcome?

Zee: [00:06:57] Yes, I think that at the starting point, it's not about us and our access to merchant. It is about creating understanding in the marketplace of what's possible. This change is happening fast, like experienced economy plus global advent of mobile. And realistically, merchants are busy with a lot of mundane things to keep their sites running, to make them functional. And unfortunately, 80, 90% of merchants are actually still not using any of the experience optimization solutions available today.

Phillip: [00:07:37] Wow.

Zee: [00:07:37] So the purpose of this community is to, number one, create awareness of what's possible so that this is not something so advanced and far away that it's not for my brand. Actually, it's something that's so possible and available for everybody. So we want to create that awareness. Secondly, if we would do something for merchant, which is like instead of talking, the purpose of this community is to invite merchants to participate and get immediately value. So every merchant gets in the beginning one of the three optimization campaigns that includes multiple things in the checkout funnel to improve immediate results. And then every merchant gets exposed to dozens, if not hundreds of other options that they should consider. And ultimately they get access to community results. Instead of everybody trying everything individually, how about as we all participate, as we all try different things, that we start to see patterns and, you know, low hanging fruit that community can leverage? System integrators on the other side are essential if there's no agency support and system integrator who's going to do these things? We can talk about, but somebody needs to, you know, make things happen. So it's basically a community of merchants and system integrators who are collaborating together. We just happen to be enablers of that whole process.

Brian: [00:09:14] I love the idea of merchants sharing data to address markets, especially with the rise of larger companies, big box companies, selling online and what merchants are up against today. SMB to medium sized businesses. I think that you're dead on in that if merchants don't come together and share their data, it's going to be a lot harder for them to achieve scalable results.

Phillip: [00:09:43] Or what even what to do because the world of the possible is so big.

Brian: [00:09:48] So big. Exactly. Yes.

Phillip: [00:09:49] How would you like, where do you even begin? And a study like this at least tells you, "Well, there's a whole world of merchants that have already tried these things, and they tend to work for a certain type of a retailer. This is where you start," and then you have a whole long tail of other things to opt into after that.

Brian: [00:10:05] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:10:06] That's pretty cool.

Zee: [00:10:07] Yeah. So you're tackling one question like, do you have demographics, where you have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of merchants who have a relatively small size, and then you have a few behemoths. And the other day we learned that in Amazon's environment, there's a team of a dozen people who are doing nothing else but optimizing One Click checkout. That's their full time job. There's no individual merchant other than Amazon that can afford to have a dedicated team of a dozen people doing One Click optimization because there's so many angles, so many nuances that can produce significantly different outcomes. So by pooling resources together, by coming together into this community, so it's not a study, it's ongoing initiatives. So this is not something that we will do for a month or two and then stop. This is going to be a community of merchants and system integrators that will continually collaborate and continually expand this knowledge base, so that we create the virtual behemoth that has the know how of the biggest eCommerce companies.

Phillip: [00:11:29] That's awesome. Tell me a little bit about if they wanted to get involved or see the results of the study. Where can they go?

Zee: [00:11:35] Yeah, so we are, number one, launching this for Magento because from our point of view Magento, as an eCommerce platform, is a community itself. So there's no better place to create a community of merchants and system integrators than Magento because their DNA is community. So there's a mobileoptimize.org site that can give people additional information about how to join and participate in this community. But doors are open and each merchant will get directly measurable benefits without the risk of traditional technology buying and implementations, using, and all of this.

Phillip: [00:12:21] And if people want to find out more about Hi Conversion, where can they go?

Zee: [00:12:25] HiConversion.com.

Phillip: [00:12:28] Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Zee. And if you want to get in touch and find out more about the study, like he said, head on over to mobileoptimize.org. And some of the results are really, really incredible. We've heard a lot here at Meet Magento, New York 2018 about the results of this program and how merchants are seeing real impact. Next up, we have Hasan Elkomey, who is from Redstage, will be joining us in just a moment.

Phillip: [00:13:36] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:13:40] I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:13:41] And we are live at Meet Magento, New York 2018, where we're learning more about the Mobile Optimize program and what mobile optimization can do for you and your merchants. I'm here with Hasan Elkomey from Redstage, who is a Magento systems integrator and is one of the premier partners of the Mobile Optimize program. Hasan, tell us a little bit about yourself and what Redstage does and how you're taking part in the mobile optimization program.

Hasan: [00:14:05] Sure. Thank you for having me. Redstage, we are an eCommerce agency with a focus on B2B. I head up our global partnerships. I'm actually new with the team. I only started in May.

Phillip: [00:14:19] Awesome.

Hasan: [00:14:20] So it's been a lot of acceleration jumping into this. I also sit on the board at Rutgers University, and I'm the chairman for the Center of Innovations Accelerator Programs. We're into design thinking, big data cybersecurity... Programs to really help the students that need it most, like us who are in the workplace, and kind of get thrown into a project or a new role and kind of have to make it work. So a lot of what I'm doing in my day to day is being translated into the curriculum. So it's very exciting.

Phillip: [00:14:53] Yeah. And so from the academia sort of point of view and coming into retailers, how are you helping retailers become more data centric and helping them challenge assumptions where they can make use of data in a way to produce quality outcomes for their customers?

Hasan: [00:15:17] Sure. So this mobile eCommerce optimization initiative is a mouthful, but it was essential to figure out if there was a need, because assuming something only gets you so far. And as you saw yesterday in some of the sessions, simple things like putting a lockbox on a button, change things drastically.

Phillip: [00:15:45] Yeah.

Hasan: [00:15:46] Over 17% conversion rate. It's just wild. From just putting a lockbox icon. Nothing more. Or changing colors and moving things around. Baffles my tech team as you saw Oliver, from our team, he just kept shaking his head. He's like, it's insane that little things go a long way like that. Unexpected. And then the things we expected, like the zip code auto fill, we thought was going to make things even better, but actually did not. It's wild. And now we're trying to figure out why. So getting into the customer insight and interviewing them and getting that data is going to be the next step in figuring out why these weren't working and why that was working.

Phillip: [00:16:37] Yeah.

Hasan: [00:16:38] And maybe it's a placebo thing where they just see the lockbox and they think, you know what, it's secure. I don't really need to think about it. We had about 75% of the merchants on the B2C side, 25% on the B2B side. I'm hoping as we continue to progress, we get a little bit more on the B2B side. What we're also seeing is some of the B2B companies are getting into the B2C space to get that insight, that data and analytics on the consumers, to make things better. Another thing they're using that for, and I preach this because I was in it on the merchant side, the data can help drive the budget. When I go to my boss and I say, "Look, we need to spend this money here." The question is "Why? We're really doing well. Why do we need to spend the money here?" Or "We're not doing so well. We don't have the budget for it."

Phillip: [00:17:32] Right. Yeah, that's what I call the death spiral. Right.

Hasan: [00:17:35] Yeah, exactly. How do I get the money from another team to my team? Because I know this is going to make things better. Data gets us there. Showing that this is what we've done in this initiative. And this is why we need to invest in this. We need to invest resources. We need to invest the budget. We don't need to start massively, but let's start somewhere. This is why it's so important from my perspective.

Phillip: [00:18:03] And so you talk about challenging assumptions, right? And you talked about the benefit of having larger amounts of data from, you know, allowing other people to help you sort of crowdsource what works and what doesn't. And you're trying to connect the why certain things might work on certain merchants and not on others. So you're challenging assumptions. And when you say more growth and B2B, as a B2B focused company, how can a B2B merchant who may not have the benefit of like... When I think about a study like this or a test initiative, you have to have a large amount of data and a large amount of traffic to prove out some theories. So what are some things that B2B merchants might be able to make use of in a study like this that helps them with their customers, which might be a smaller customer segment set?

Hasan: [00:19:01] So we talked about millennials yesterday and more and more of them are coming into the workplace. Different studies show me as a millennial, but others do not. I'm 34.

Phillip: [00:19:15] You are sort of bridge. Right.

Hasan: [00:19:16] So I guess I'm like that gray area, but I kind of have the same concept in my shop. I'm on the B2B side. When I'm doing something I want it to be simple and easy. I want to get to it and get it done. Because I have other important things to do.

Phillip: [00:19:32] Because you're motivated, and you're ready to purchase.

Hasan: [00:19:34] Yeah. That's the mindset that we have, is simplicity and feasibility. I want to get what I want quickly and move on. Millennials have that mindset, OK? And they're entering the workplace even stronger than before. They're entering the leadership role. They are becoming the stakeholders and those decision makers, and they understand that there needs to be a shift. If it's not working the way it's working on the B2C side from the B2B standpoint, then it needs to change in their mind. And they're investing resources on it to make it work.

Phillip: [00:20:11] So they're spurring digital transformation?

Hasan: [00:20:17] Absolutely.

Phillip: [00:20:17] That's pretty much all we talk about on the show.

Brian: [00:20:21] Pretty much. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:20:21] And I think it's interesting that we're starting to see retailers who see this as not just like a channel in their business, but this is their business. Digital transformation is their business in 2018. Brian, do you have any thoughts you'd like to add to that?

Brian: [00:20:39] No, I think you're spot on here, and I love your comments on B2B and where that's headed. I think, you know, digital transformation has to happen across both B2B and B2C. So using data like this to make those decisions is imperative.

Phillip: [00:20:54] Yeah data driven decisions.

Hasan: [00:20:58] Definitely.

Phillip: [00:20:58] Tell me a little bit about what a merchant can do to get involved. If they want to take part in the Mobile Optimize program, what is involved in that?

Hasan: [00:21:10] Very simple. Come to the website. It's a mobileoptimize.org. And just sign up. There are plenty of great SIs involved here that want to help, and it's being funded and backed by PayPal and the Hi Conversion team and the agencies are investing in this as well to make things better.

Phillip: [00:21:37] If someone was to say, well, what you're just trying to do is to get me to sign up for something and to pay for some sort of a program. How could you dispel that sort of fear, that cynicism?

Hasan: [00:21:51] So let me make it clear, there's no obligation. It's all about the data and feel free to come to the website, take a look and see the results for yourself. Talk to some of the merchants if you're looking for references. We have some that are available to speak to you to let you know. I mean, there's no obligation. We're looking to make things better. The data is what we need to make things better. And we're happy to do this at no cost to the merchant, but it's free.

Phillip: [00:22:22] Where can they find out more about you?

Hasan: [00:22:25] You guys can go to redstage.com. There should be a bio on there. Or LinkedIn. My name isn't very common, like Phillip Jackson.

Phillip: [00:22:39] {laughter} Yeah, there're a couple of famous Phil Jacksons in the world. But Hasan Elkomey.

Hasan: [00:22:44] Hasan Elkomey on LinkedIn. And I'm happy to help any way I can or my Twitter handle is @hasanelkomey. Or you can find us through @redstage.

Phillip: [00:23:00] It's so good to meet you. I really appreciate you and your time. And thank you for contributing to a community of merchants and developers and technology partners who are trying to make mobile the very first place for innovations in retail. But we appreciate Hasan Elkomey from Redstage. Thank you for joining Future Commerce.

Brian: [00:23:22] Thank you.

Hasan: [00:23:22] Thank you so much.

Phillip: [00:25:18] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:25:22] I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:25:22] And today we are joined live at Meet Magento, New York 2018 by Brent Peterson, who is the chief Magento evangelist at Wagento Creative. Say hello, Brent.

Brent: [00:25:35] Hello, how are you? Pretty good.

Brian: [00:25:36] How are you doing?

Phillip: [00:25:37] We wanted to engage you just a little bit to give some context. We know that you're part of the mobile optimization program that is being governed and sort of overseen by many people in the community, such as yourself, and and sponsored by big players in the space like PayPal, Braintree. I thought maybe if you give us a little bit of background on sort of what you think the purpose of the study is and how it's helpful for merchants.

Brent: [00:26:03] I think the first purpose is to show merchants how important mobile is now and how mobile needs to be measured to show how it's more effective than desktop, or how it can be more effective than desk top.

Phillip: [00:26:15] And more effective than desktop... Do you think that people have sort of written off mobile? Because in years past we've said things like mobile doesn't convert, mobile doesn't convert as well. So you're challenging those assumptions?

Brent: [00:26:28] Absolutely. I think that the idea that people, that writing off mobile is crazy, since almost everybody is going to buy something on mobile. So you have to look at it. And I'm most excited about the numbers that we see out of these studies.

Phillip: [00:26:42] Yeah.

Brent: [00:26:43] They're showing this uplift from mobile and then experimenting these little things that are giving us some real good insight on what's happening on the mobile phone at checkout.

Phillip: [00:26:53] Give me an example of the kind of successful test that you're seeing on your side with some of your merchants.

Brent: [00:27:01] I've definitely the most surprise test was the padlock on the buy button.

Phillip: [00:27:06] This has come up once or twice. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about that one.

Brent: [00:27:09] Somebody suggested putting a padlock on the buy button without thinking, oh, this is going to give an uplift. And it gave like a 17% uplift on your checkouts just by adding a little padlock to your checkout button.

Brian: [00:27:25] Wow.

Brent: [00:27:25] Who would ever think that you're going to get this amount of extra AOV because of a little padlock?

Phillip: [00:27:33] So it can start with very, very small types of tests and it can also branch out into other areas. Tell me a little bit about the merchants that are involved in the study on your side. What kinds of industries are they in?

Brent: [00:27:46] A lot of fashion. We are we have a B2B client now that's also involved. So it's a good variety. They have to have a certain amount of volume to participate, but it is a broad reach of clients that are being involved in the study.

Phillip: [00:28:04] What kind of tests aren't working that you assumed would?

Brent: [00:28:09] The most interesting one was auto filling the zip code, which nobody can understand. I think it was all Oliver from Redstage that just couldn't understand why auto filling a zip code would give you less check out.

Phillip: [00:28:28] Right. So there was making some sort of an assumption around the capability of like auto sensing something might be off putting to a customer.

Brent: [00:28:36] Yeah, it's some of the intuitive things that we think are smart, the numbers are showing it that maybe they're not so smart. Why aren't they smart?

Brian: [00:28:45] Right. Don't make assumptions about what your customers actually want or how they how they work. Don't make assumptions by age or by a lot of things. You never know. And that's actually what we talk to Hasan a little bit about, or actually to Zee a little bit about.

Phillip: [00:29:02] Yeah.

Brian: [00:29:03] Which was this study is really helpful because it takes things out of the realm of the possible and actually put some oomph and structure behind it, so that other retailers can learn from these results and see... When you have unlimited options, things are almost impossible to figure out.

Phillip: [00:29:23] Right. Like where do you begin?

Brian: [00:29:24] When you see some data, then you can actually start to make some decisions.

Brent: [00:29:27] It takes it out of the "feels like" and "it seems like" into "it is."

Brian: [00:29:31] Yes.

Phillip: [00:29:31] Right.

Brent: [00:29:31] Because you can see it happening.

Brian: [00:29:33] Yes.

Brent: [00:29:34] One more interesting thing that I thought was a good thing to look at was it's not always the same across all the demographics. There's definitely a lot of downside to some people and a lot of upside to both. So they gave some examples of it working really well for some in the same exact study and another demographic not working at all.

Brian: [00:29:56] Really interesting.

Phillip: [00:29:56] So challenge assumptions and use data to prove out outcomes. That's what it comes down to.

Brent: [00:30:05] Yeah. Use the data. Plan your study. Look forward and strategize on what could be better and always do your A/B testing.

Brian: [00:30:13] Awesome.

Phillip: [00:30:13] And so where can people find out more about what Wagento?

Brent: [00:30:16] Wagento is wagento.com

Phillip: [00:30:18] And where in the world are you? Where are you located?

Brent: [00:30:22] We are located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and we also have an office in Mexico City, Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Ahmedabad, India.

Phillip: [00:30:31] Very good. And what kind of merchants do you work with?

Brent: [00:30:35] In the Latin America region we would work with larger merchants, say 10,000 employees and above, with physical stores. In the US, our typical merchant size would be 10 million and above, 200 employees.

Phillip: [00:30:51] Very good. Appreciate it. Brent Peterson from Wagento Creative. Always a pleasure. And thank you for coming on, Future Commerce.

Brent: [00:30:56] Thank you.

Brian: [00:30:56] Thank you.

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