Omniplatform is biggest change in mobile this year, says Zappos exec

NEW YORK ? A Zappos executive at the Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2014 conference said that Apple and Google?s efforts to create seamless experiences across devices will drive the biggest change in marketers? mobile strategies this year and next. 

Amazon?s Zappos is already adjusting its application and mobile Web development in response to these changes, looking for the points in the customers experience when it makes the most sense to have an integrated experience across smartphone, tablet and desktop. The executive called the strategy ?omniplatform? and said it is a subset of omnichannel, during the session titled ?Amazon?s Zappos: Tapping the Fastest-Growing Platform for Holiday Season Shopping.?

?The biggest change for this year is to think about how each experience complements each other and come up with an omniplatform strategy,? said Aki Iida, head of mobile at Zappos, Las Vegas.  

?This is kind of changing our direction a little bit at Zappos, how we are thinking about bringing all of these experiences together,? he said. ?How do we tie them together or at which points does it make sense to tie them together so that customers can be able to make a purchase or continue the task they are trying to do." 

The Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2014 was organized by Mobile Marketer.

Unified experiences
For marketers working on mobile, one of the headaches every year is adjusting to Apple?s and Google?s updates to their mobile operating systems, which require developers to make adjustments in their mobile experiences. 

This time around, these updates highlight a much bigger focus on integrating experiences across devices, per Mr. Iida, who pointed to Apple?s iOS 8 and Google?s Android L as well as its material design push as the main forces behind the need for omniplatform experiences. 

One of the interesting concepts iOS 8 is Continuity, which enables users to answer a phone call to their iPhone number on an iPad, desktop or laptop device. 

Users will also be able to text and chat from any device as well as receive push notifications on desktop and tablets. 

The handoff
Perhaps the most important concept Continuity for marketers is Handoff, which enables a user to start writing an email on an iPhone and then, when the use moves over to a desktop, laptop or tablet device, to click on an icon and access that email. 

Additionally, users will be able to browse a Web page on their phone and have the same URL show up in the browser when they move over to another device. 

?All of the devices are integrating, coming together and trying to create a unified experience,? Mr. Iida said. 

?I think most importantly the one feature of Continuity that is going to be very important is the concept of Handoff,? he said. ?At Zappos, we are developing Handoff features.?

Removing friction
For retailers, Mr. Iida recommends they look at customer behavior to try to uncover the key differences in behavior between devices. For example, Zappos has observed that customers tend to favorite things more often on smartphones compared to tablets or desktop.

The question to ask is what are customers doing after they favorite something? Are they coming back to the phone to make a purchase later on or are they moving over to another device to continue searching and/or complete a purchase? 

?How are you enabling that experience to be as seamless a s possible so that the customer doesn?t have to go through all of this friction to be able to make a purchase or continue this task that they were trying to do,? Mr. Iida said.

?Now that customers are doing a task through multiple devices and as Google and Apple continue to enable that behavior, what does that mean for your overall mobile strategy,? he said. 

?How do you tie in all of these different experiences.?

These changes do not change the need to develop experiences for each device based on screen size and the main use case for each device. 

However, marketers now need to also take their strategies to the next level by looking for places to tie together these experiences. 

?You are seeing customers being able to move from device to device and being able to continue their tasks without necessarily having to restart that task from the beginning,? Mr. Iida said. ?The platforms are trying to figure out how to make it as simple as possible.?

Final Take
Aki Iida is head of mobile at Zappos, Las Vegas