Ryan Hart
May 17, 2016

Learning from innovative mobile experiences in Asia Pacific

Even if you can't prioritise mobile experience above all else, you should consider paying more attention to it. Forrester's Ryan hart points to examples from around the region that show why.

Ryan Hart
Ryan Hart

The battle for the nearly 1.3 billion smartphone users in markets across Asia Pacific is fierce and will only intensify. According to Forrester’s Mobile Mind Shift research, Asia Pacific is flush with shifted users—those customers who rank high in their desire to be served on their mobile device. In fact, data supports that mobile experiences have become central to the lives of more than 60 percent of the world’s population.

Companies looking to target the mobile-first customers of Asia Pacific, need to be aware that mediocre mobile experiences will no longer be enough. Brands seeking to serve these customers in their mobile moments of need and win over a profitable 'share of thumb' must innovate to ensure that they deliver differentiated and relevant experiences. Where customers today face an abundance of choice when choosing which brands to interact with on their mobile phones, there is little disagreement that consumer expectations of their mobile experiences then continue to rise in parallel.

Low barriers to entry mean very little emotional and financial commitment to 'try' new mobile experiences—leading to what Forrester sees as hyperadoption. However, where there’s hyperadoption, there is also hyperabandonment. To keep customers connected to their brands, companies must rapidly and continually enhance their mobile experiences, in an effort to appease the hyperabandonment urges of their customers.

But just being innovative isn’t enough to ensure that consumers will adopt and use your mobile app—you also need to deliver a great mobile experience that dispenses clear value, optimises efficiency, and simplifies presentation.

Mobile innovators that deliver clear value

Taxi-hailing apps have become immensely popular around the world as they fill a gap in the market that creates immediate value for the customer. For example, Chinese taxi-hailing apps like Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache gained a foothold in the market over their global competitors by creating unique features to allow relevant local pay options and foster passenger loyalty through a post-ride “Lucky Money” random rewards system—essentially a point redemption and couponing play.

Similarly, Go-Jek in Indonesia helps solve the long-standing issue of the country’s relentless traffic jams and creating jobs in a slowing economy. A standalone app, Go-Jek allows people to find a motorbike (also known as an Ojek) by GPS and hire its services. Customers can place orders through their mobile phones to find motorbikes near them and get the drivers to run errands. Whether it’s a massage from a professional masseuse or a favourite dish from a local food stall, orders are delivered immediately; the customer never has to step outside and can pay for the whole experience through the Go-Jek mobile wallet.

Other mobile innovators cross-reference user location, communications record, and online behaviour to provide contextualised content in a customer’s mobile moments of need. Chinese users of the Shopping Guide mobile app receive real-time product promotions as they walk the aisles in Homemart and Carrefour stores, allowing them to easily locate the products they are looking for by using the store navigation guide embedded in the app. Navitime Japan also provides real-time detailed indoor and outdoor navigation services to subscribers for stations and buildings in 32 areas throughout Japan.

Mobile innovators that optimize efficiency

The value proposition of some mobile experiences is about simplifying common tasks. For example, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises, the Australian franchise of Domino’s Pizza, streamlines the pizza ordering scenario by offering convenient SMS messaging integration. Users simply text a pizza emoji or the word “pizza” to order their pre-saved favourite. The app’s Live Pizza and GPS Driver Tracker allow customers to track the progress of their pizza from preparation to delivery.

Likewise, GoGoVan, a location-based van service that makes P2P and small-business deliveries in Singapore, provides fast and reliable value. On top of renting the time of a larger vehicle to move or deliver furniture, plants, or other bulky items, the service includes the driver and delivery staff. A progress bar on the mobile site clearly guides the user through the process, from order tracking, to payment.

Japanese messaging platform Line is also able to efficiently provide compelling utility and convenience within an existing experience that users are already familiar with. It currently partners with Japanese banks such as Mizuho to deliver balance and transaction history data by simply sending a request sticker via chat. Yamato Transport’s Kuroneko shipping service also corresponds with the recipient via Line chat to arrange and reschedule parcel delivery times. Customers can then pay for services offered within the messaging environment using LinePay.

Mobile innovators that simplify presentation

In a departure from the content-heavy, graphics-scarce mobile sites that characterised websites in Asia Pacific just a few years ago, companies are now simplifying and enlarging their icons and adding graphics for a softer, more sophisticated presentation. This is evident in hotel room aggregators such as Hong Kong's HotelQuickly and South Korea's DailyHotel where a simplified design with clear pictures of clean rooms and facilities are key to being successful at marketing hotel rooms. HotelQuickly leaves key functionality such as filter date and map icons at the top of the screen; DailyHotel offers more details by dragging the map upward.

iChangi, the mobile app for flight information into and out of Singapore's Changi airport, has also simplified its presentation, prioritising flight arrival and departure information on the home screen while offering a simple one-click pathway to more detailed information if needed.

Some mobile innovators also incorporate intuitive touch gestures that smooth task completion. For example, Bank of New Zealand's YouMoney banking app helps customers better manage their personal finances by organising funds by their intended purpose. The user interface reduces the process for transferring funds from one account to another or paying a bill to a simple drag-and-drop motion. With icons representing different account types and regular payees, YouMoney customers simply drag one icon over another and then enter the amount to transfer or pay. The improved convenience of YouMoney has been positive for customers, resulting in increased savings rates and a 20 percent drop in late credit-card payments. India's MagicBricks real-estate brokerage site minimises the amount of user touchpad input by providing easy, sequential, gesture-based browsing of properties by budget and markets.

Drop what you’ve been doing and focus on the mobile experience

As competition continues to push companies across Asia Pacific to innovate in the mobile space, firms that prioritise their mobile experience will reap the benefits of sustainable adoption and customer loyalty.

Global customer experience (CX) leaders, and in particular UX design-led companies like Apple, will delay product launches not because something doesn’t work on a technical or functional level, but because the user experience is not quite right.

While very few companies prioritise their mobile experience to this degree, companies that have successfully embedded design in their DNA will prioritise mobile user experience above all else. Very simply, they recognise that a superior mobile user experience will be a differentiator that pays dividends over the long term.

Ryan Hart is a principal analyst at Forrester


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