American Marketer


Smart mobile apps for tomorrow’s mobile consumer

April 30, 2012

Lars Hård is founder and chief technology officer of Expertmaker


By Lars Hård

In the age of digital information and sensory overload, technology functionality becomes more essential. Today’s consumers want to find information and products quickly and easily—and this is especially true for the rapidly growing population of mobile users worldwide.

With these high expectations, comes a need for a revolutionized mobile experience across industries. By providing today’s applications with a smart layer of artificial intelligence, mobile users can access a series of new ways to search and discover.

Numbers speak
Mobile commerce is an industry where these innovations can have a deep impact for mobile consumers.

Forrester’s Mobile Commerce Forecast: 2011 to 2016 report forecasts that consumers will spend more than $31 billion on their mobile devices by the end of 2016.

While the report notes that 87 percent of retailers see mobile as a driver of revenues, less than a third (29 percent) have a strategy implemented of how to engage mobile consumers.

It is true.

The majority of mobile commerce offerings use a Web search engine crammed into the mobile device, providing a bad user experience with lots of iterative searches and clicks.

When we consider the amount of consumer opportunities on the mobile Web today, another missing feature for mobile shopping is the lack of good advice available to the consumer.

By integrating artificial intelligence technology, it is possible for mobile commerce sites to offer smart offerings in the form of high quality recommendations, personalized discovery and virtual shopping assistants.

Human-like mobile recommendations
Asking your mobile shopping app for recommendations typically results in offers that are motivated by advertising and marketing goals, which often times does not benefit the mobile shopper.

A mobile shopping app which mimics the qualities of a seasoned salesperson would allow users to express their personal needs, wants and constraints with a highly graphic, interactive interface that provides the best possible recommendation.

Personalized mobile discovery
Discovery solutions vary tremendously.

A mobile shopper may find a new product by conducting new research, using referential past searches or taking other consumers recommendations.

One discovery method for mobile apps with artificial intelligence is based on a series of questions and answers, resembling an interactive, social process we do at cocktail parties when meeting and learning about a new person.

Another method might be using a suggested, relevant starting point—such as a product the mobile shopper already owns—to then base the discovery process off these product’s qualities and providing instant results without any research needed.

Virtual shopping assistants
A significant amount of mobile users do not have the time to shop, keep up with trends, or monitor good deals and opportunities.

By combining deep personalization with a virtual assistant that can keep track of individuals’ preferences, needs and wants, mobile apps would be equipped to alert the shopper precisely when something relevant turns up.

This type of smart retail app, in turn, makes it possible for brands to create a very personal relationship with customers and is perhaps the beginning of an increasingly brand-focused Internet.

So, what might a “smart app” look like in the very near future? Here is a glimpse of some of the key differences that mobile shoppers will no doubt benefit from.

Optimize a complex buying process: When considering a major purchase, such as buying a house pet, key research can be incorporated to accommodate as many factors you need to consider, such as size of your living space.

Predict the best possible match: Your mobile device will be able to learn and sense your behavior and build a much more complex profile than what is available today.

If, for example, you are searching for new shirt and you have previously selected the color blue for other purchases, your app will highlight those shirts that are all shades of blue along with patterns that you may like first.

Handle conflicts: Your app will provide another level of CRM that does not need an employee’s attention, even handling personal issues such as budget.

Allow the customer to express their taste, needs and desires in detail: By capturing more details for the customer, both explicitly and implicitly, the precision of the advice given to customers improves radically.

Enable a seamless mobile experience: Much like Siri allows a mobile user to communicate hands-free, new user interfaces can include voice, facial/image recognition and much more.

The result is a more precise, intuitive and custom-built shopping experience. Here’s to the future.

Lars Hård is founder and chief technology officer of Expertmaker, Malmö, Sweden. Reach him at