Precisely how retailers should use mobile apps

February 12, 2015 03:35 PM

Take a look at that picture. It's a screen shot from my iPhone, from the lock screen. So I hadn't even opened my phone yet.

That's a push notification from the Shari's Berries mobile app reminding me that Valentine's Day is fast approaching. That's it. Nothing more.

But boy did it ever work. First, I love chocolate-covered strawberries. If you don't love chocolate-covered strawberries, you're un-American. Shari's Berries obviously offers those and plenty of other sweet goodies. Second, Shari's Berries boasts a phenomenal mobile app with beautiful design and great device integration (like taking information from your Contacts to fill out forms). Checkout is so easy. (Though Shari, you could make it even easier with Apple Pay, hint, hint.) Even the app icon on your smartphone screen looks delicious!

I can be stingy with push notifications. You need to give me a reason to say yes to allowing you to send me push messages. And to be honest, I don't even remember saying yes to Shari. Though I'm sure I did, no worries. Happy I did! Because that message totally made some neurons in my brain immediately fire off: "That would be a great Valentine's Day surprise for my hubby and perhaps some others."

Then I went to the other room and sat on the couch, and what comes on the TV? A commercial for Shari's Berries. Talk about a one-two punch. So I opened the app and began ordering.

Mind you, I've made multiple purchases in the past via the app. But they all were for very important matters: for an uncle who just lost his wife, for a niece who went way above and beyond, things where money was no object. This time, however, it was an impulse purchase, kind of a bonus gift. (I'm taking the husband out for a gigantic steak on Valentine's Day.) I get to the final checkout page on gift No. 1, which cost $19.95, and I see that shipping costs $13. Thirteen bucks! That's 65% of the cost of the product! And I'm supposed to do this five times over? (I had five people in mind.)

Well, two words came to mind, and I can't print them here.

A Shari’s Berries spokeswoman said she could not secure an executive for comment this week in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.

So Shari's Berries did everything right, and I do mean everything, when it comes to mobile commerce. But they blew it at the very last moment when they wanted to crucify me for shipping charges. So they lost $100 in Valentine's Day sales (not including taxes and shipping).

I suggest all retailers can learn extremely valuable lessons by studying the Shari's Berries mobile app. It's fantastic. All retailers also can learn a lesson from this particular story about a consumer making an impulse buy via mobile device. If you think 65% of the cost of a product is a reasonable shipping charge? You're out of your mind.

Postscript: After suddenly remembering my mother-in-law’s birthday is Monday, I went back to Shari’s Berries and ordered her a lovely (and more expensive) gift. And paid the shipping charges (which were 28% of the product price). But a birthday gift for a mother-in-law is not an impulse buy. So the products and the mobile experience brought me back, and I fell on my sword when it came to shipping since the event is heavy-duty and the time is nigh.




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