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November 28, 2012

‘Don’t develop apps for the sake of it’: Q&A with Stuart Fuller, NetNames

Stuart Fuller, head of communications at brand protections specialist NetNames, sits down with CBR to talk the diversification of daily deals and future eCommerce trends

By Tineka Smith

Stuart Fuller NetNames

Lately companies like Groupon having trouble performing well. What does this say about the future of the daily deal industry?
When a business model comes out, if it’s successful then people with try and replicate it and adapt their existing model. So what you’ll find with Groupon is that a lot of retailers try and develop Groupon’s model.

A lot of Groupon’s deals which were ground-breaking two years ago are now no longer great and they’re having to try and push the boundaries to find new deal and products.

Retailers don’t necessarily need Groupon’s buying power anymore. They’ve been able to develop their own business models and social interactions and that’s helped them survive and flourish without needing to use Groupon.

So are daily deals on their way out?
No, I think they have their place but I think they need to be better targeted to audiences. For example I saw a Groupon deal that sold out which was for Puma trainers this week in which five thousand units sold out within a couple of hours. Why is that successful? Groupon widened the audience for that product as it’s a generic product. It’s something all people want and understand where as some of their other specific deals just so niche that people can’t really relate to them.

How does social media affect eCommerce aggregator sites?
While there is a place for daily deals, retailers are getting smarter and building up their own data bases and using social media better. They’re now able to get a message out about a daily deal through their Twitter feed or Facebook page and that negates the need for an aggregator like Groupon.

How do you think the eCommerce industry is moving from email and towards mobile and social media?
Well if you look at the take up of smartphones, there’s a 200% growth in apps in the last year to 18 months. People want things pushed at them that are relevant. Email is such a mass blast with the hope that you’ll pick one or two people up; whereas an app allows people to go and search for the deals they want when they want them. As consumers we don’t want to be bombarded with information. We want to choose when we want it and how we want the information.

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I think going forward it’s going to be much more reliant the whole concept of augmented reality. For example I could be walking past a restaurant with my phone my location on and I’ve subscribed to the app to let me know what deals are there and as I walk past the restaurant I can get a message on my phone with a deal and QR code to go in and scan right away.

How does this change the outlook for online retailers? Will it be the norm to provide a mobile app in order to see profitable sales?
I don’t think they’ll necessarily have to offer that to have the increase in sales. I think that smartphone users are so used to accessing an app that it’s second nature for them to want one. People shouldn’t be developing an app for the sake of it. The app has to do something; it has to give some value back. Retailers need to deliver value and deliver it easily to the targeted audience. A lot of retailers rush out, build their app and have no pre thought about what they or the consumer actually want from the app.

How do you think the eCommerce landscape is changing and what are some trends for 2013?
We are so reliant on our smart devices now. The whole shopping experience has changed for eCommerce. People are adopting the smartphone concept to their whole eCommerce approach.

However, there few things retailers need to bear in mind. They need to make sure that their websites are mobile compliant and that the user experience is just as good as it would be if they were in the actual store.

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