Finding Opportunities, Solving Problems

20120627-204808.jpg I attended the first-ever Untether Talks these past two days, and @RetailProphet‘s presentation, Mobile Retail: the Destination is You, was worth reflecting on.

@RetailProphet’s key message was that mobile retail is not really about mobile as a medium. It’s about finding those moments in a customer’s life where there are opportunities for you to solve a problem or meet a need.

Finding opportunities and solving problems is not about channels – web, mobile, in-store, print, broadcast, etc.

It’s about identifying the paths to purchase.

In UX circles, we call it the customer journey. Marketing types call these customer touch points. Whatever we call it, it’s about starting our thinking and imagining the possibilities from the user’s perspective: what do they need in order for us to earn our spot in their minds, hearts, and/or wallets.

It’s about asking the right questions and framing the problem correctly.

It is never about a channel or a device. Asking what we can do in mobile, social, etc. is asking the wrong question.

@RetailProphet offers these access points to start asking those questions:
  • What are those customer moments that are currently not being served?
  • Where are those moments occurring?
  • What are the most relevant and available surfaces?

Put differently, the right questions, the right approach are the same as they’ve always been:

  • What is the user need?
  • What are the barriers to adoption?
  • Can the problem be solved or the opportunity be met using the tools we have on hand?
Channels and devices are tactical, implementational opportunities. They are the circumstantial aspects of an idea. It’s the difference between asking how can we make the horses go faster/further versus how can get from point a to point be faster/further. The former is incidental to horses (tactical), while the latter frames it as a transportation problem (strategic).

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