Mobile Retail Focus for 2013? (60min Business World interview)

In the following interview I discuss with , the preeminent business blogger (Blog Business World), that retailers need to embrace new strategies to reconnect with their customers. We discuss:

  • Strategies to win back customers who have left the malls, big box, and other retail outlets for their mobile devices.
  • How the behavior of mobile shoppers is different from both tethered online customers and from the traditional in store consumer.
  • Techniques for winning back those customers, reconnecting with them, and regaining their long term loyalty.
  • How to embrace mobile technology as a competitive advantage for your business, and place yourself in the forefront of the mobile shopping revolution.

10 mobile predictions for 2013 in under 75 words

1.      Substitute “Mobile” for more inclusive term “CONNECTED SCREENS
2.      Geo-LOCATION crucial to social strategy
3.      NFC continues to be far field
4.      For RETAIL: space between bricks and clicks most valuable
5.      For everyone: space CONNECTING screens most valuable
6.      Mobile viruses push SECURITY agenda
7.      More PRIVACY transgressions, More PRIVACY protection
8.      ANDROID increase the lead in a 3 horse race
9.      Operator CAPACITY drives new business models
10.  Through-The-Middle (TTM) services counter OTT

Mobile Privacy Experts: Consumer Trust Vital

Gary Schwartz, president and CEO of Impact Mobile and chair of the North American Chapter of the Mobile Entertainment Forum, tells Street Fight that building trust should be the core of a retailer’s mobile and online strategy. “The key to engaging with the consumer in a trusted relationship in a retail environment is you don’t want to engage with people who don’t want to engage with you,” says Schwartz. “The outreach should be focused on loyalists with a retailer’s brand. It’s about your loyalists putting up their hand and saying ‘hey I want to talk to you because I love your product.’”

“You need to make a call to action on all your touch points, and say if you love my product opt in. Once you have that, you have to let them opt out at any time,” Schwartz adds. He believes the strategy can be outrageously successful: “If you’re on target, if you are talking to them and they love your product, they will stay with you. It will attract 10x over your email channel.”


Building trust requires developers and businesses to implement a strategy that give consumers a better idea of what information is collected from them, and what choices they have to control it. Regulators have encouraged developers and businesses to engage in “privacy by design,” that is, incorporate transparency and protections for consumers on their information as products are built and launched.

Regulators have become increasingly aggressive in addressing what they perceive as abuses in the use of consumer information from mobile devices. Already, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Research in Motion and other major application stores have agreed with the California Attorney General to require all developers to provide privacy policies with their applications, include a process to display such policies in their stores, and report developers that are not complying. The California Attorney General’s office warned it will take enforcement action if the privacy policy process is not in place within six months.

Privacy vs. Data: How to build consumer trust?

By Gary Schwartz

The way we define the term privacy is subjective. In the United States, we police privacy based on a very broad definition under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act that prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.” The devil is in the policy details.

If the news headlines over the past few months are any indication, we are mighty confused with what to call private and what to call public, what to sanction and what not to sanction. How can we start to solve small-screen privacy when we have not solved our digital angst on the desktop?

Jules Polonetsky, director of the Future of Privacy Forum, says that when the browser invariably crashes it pops up a commiserating dialogue box asking you permission to send the diagnostic report to the browser company anonymously to help them fix bugs and build a better browser.

Faced with this privacy brief, only 3 percent of users click “Yes.”

Digital natives

Is it because we are digital immigrates? Our children happily offer data everyday about personal activity without hesitation.

Is the challenge simplifying the legal narrative to allow consumers to make an informed decision without interrupting their next click on the small screen? It seems an improbable feat.

In March, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report on best practices for businesses collecting personal data called “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations For Businesses and Policymakers.”

The FTC, which is taking a proactive lead on privacy in the beltway, seems cognizant that it needs to create a flexible framework to best interpret what is unfair or deceptive in Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.


Girls Around Me: An issue of privacy and trust!

By Gary Schwartz

Why the shock and awe of a mobile application that helps guys find girls around them – an app which uses publicly available data from Facebook and foursquare’s APIs, data which is completely permission-based?

Well, the “GirlsAround.Me” app, understandably, riled the press. The Cult of Mac blog’s headline reads: “This Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It’s A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy”. CNET’s op-ed reads: “Girls Around Me and the end of Internet innocence.”

However, the “Girls Around Me” app is simply another in a long list of controversial services that use information that is floating about the digital commons.

The Russian company, i-Free, that developed the app cannot understand the kerfuffle, claiming that it has been used as a “scapegoat” for the privacy debates whirling about Washington. Honestly, it has every right to be confused.

The industry itself is confused and responding to privacy in reactive knee jerks instead of thoughtful best practices. The problem is the complexity and sensitivity of social data. Combining location check-in with social graph is a potent privacy cocktail.

→ Read More

Dealing with Mobile Consumer Trust on April 24th

We are all excited about the potential for mobile wallets in the store and the cloud. The consumer can click permission for mobile services to track their location and scrape their social graph. These services allow for shopping and social convenience.  They allow for seamless, frictionless, realtime interaction with brands and retailers.

There however is an unwritten balance between convenience and trust. When does an location-based application like Highlight move from helping to spooking the would-be social consumer?

On April 24th in DC, join me to discuss how to build a consumer friendly ecosystem that is not dictated by legislation but rather by best practices, transparency and user-friendly signs for the consumer of the services.

There are high stakes. If the industry is not proactive in addressing this crucial issue, the fallout will be costly. Juniper Research recently stated that over $74 billion worth of contactless transactions will occur in three years and the privacy and security issues could cost billions.

Top high-level executives from leading online/mobile companies, content players, ad agencies and governmental agencies will gather to discuss the pressing privacy and security issues facing M-commerce and M-content.

MEF’s Mobile Commerce and Content Privacy Summit

When: April 24, 2012 from 2pm to 6pm, with a reception following
SNR Denton’s DC Offices – Penthouse Suite 1301 K St NW Washington, D.C

For more information or to RSVP, please contact: Marjorie DeHey, GM MEF – North America 

Interview: Mobile Driving Impulse Shopping


Rob Woodbridge: I’m sitting with Gary Schwartz, you’re CEO of Impact Mobile and author of The Impulse Economy.

Gary Schwartz: Hey, thank you for having me.

Rob Woodbridge: A long time coming, I remember when we talked about this a long time ago about the — not the struggles, but the joy we’ll say of writing a book.

Gary Schwartz: No, you know, the struggles, struggles, they were there — two years of airport writing, meeting with folk coast to coast, struggles but good struggles. To understand anything when you’re in the middle of the battle and you’re really down in the trenches, it’s a challenge because it’s hard to know who’s winning, you know.

Rob Woodbridge: It is, especially you know, you’re talking to guys, they’re building as the industry is developing, so who knows what directions it’s going to go in.

Gary Schwartz: Listen, the industry doesn’t know which direction it’s going. And everybody’sgrasping for straws and trying to read the tea leaves to mix metaphors, but that’s what makes it really exciting. I think what happens when you write a book over a two year period, is you start cutting up the edges and you start to realize that you develop a really good core. And that core is really sound because you’ve spent two years cutting off the edges. And of course things change like as we put this to print, you know, there have been just a whole flurry of announcements, andthey will continue to flurry. I think the thing to understand is that the philosophy, the engagement with the consumer doesn’t change. And so the understanding and the need to have frictionless engagement, the understanding and the need to reinvent the store intelligently, the angst of the storekeeper, the needs of the shopper, those things don’t change.

Rob Woodridge: No. And they never will, right? It’s just a different medium for them to worry about.

Gary Schwartz: Absolutely.

Rob Woodridge: So go over the book, give us a brief overview of exactly what’s in The Impulse Economy?

Gary Schwartz: Well it’s called The Impulse Economy because it’s about the impulse consumer. The impulse consumer predated mobile. We are intrinsically impulse consumers. What’shappened is a lot of the things that we put into the mall, into the store, have interrupted purchase, you know, there have been whims of the storekeeper, somewhat contrived from a consumer perspective. What’s happening is we’re getting back to our native shopping behavior which is theability to do things on the fly from our couch, from the street, from the car, from the mall. And now we’re bringing that impulse ability to shop within a shop and that’s an impulse engagement but not a pleasant impulse engagement from the storekeeper’s perspective. So it’s about that whole reengagement with the shopper and understanding how to as a storekeeper or as a service provider to hit the right note with that consumer, understand how to use the phone to effectively drivepurchase.

Rob Woodbridge: But that’s the key, right, is that to drive purchase?

Gary Schwartz: It is, it is, it is all about driving ‘ ka ching’. And so it’s nice to have all the fluff of a campaign and brand awareness and all the things that we love, but if it aint driving sales. It’s not going to be … it’s not going to be a front and center focus for anybody the next year.

Rob Woodbridge: Well you talked about that core and my guess is the core as you were chipping away, the core is a philosophy isn’t it, or is it a methodology around this?

Gary Schwartz: You know, I mean there is obviously a methodology that sort of evolved. When you start looking at the industry and when you look at the way that the mobile marketing has evolved and mobile marketing was very focused on campaign engagement and doing things that were really cool and getting into the magazine as the cool brand. And what it’s evolved into is anindispensible channel and brands that really know where the future is with their consumer have understood that they need to now use that channel. So the philosophy is really on in the world which has cross channel disconnect as its central layer of angst. What are the things, the toolkits that you can use to engage with that consumer, follow that consumer and drive sale? And it doesn’t matter if it’s in the store, in the cloud or in their home, whether it’s in the car or at the dwell at elevator and it’s that central philosophy right across all your the media touch points across all your retail touch points, that has to be ground in continually. And that’s what the book’s about.

Rob Woodbridge: 100%, and what was surprising about this was that the — is it the adoption rate that you’re seeing now? Or is it the fact that it’s so influx that this industry doesn’t really have a border, it doesn’t have…  it’s a morphis isn’t it?

Gary Schwartz: Well you know what, the biggest problem with mobile is mobile. It’s the biggest problem with mobile is everybody talks about mobile and it’s not about mobile, it’s aboutunderstanding how to engage the new shopper. And if you fixate on the technology, if you fixate on the device, you’re never going to be able to to integrate it into your business as usual core focus. It’s always going to be a bell and a whistle. What brands, retailers, what anybody out there needs to understand is it’s about ROI, it’s about understanding how to drive your objectives with sales and if that’s your focus and then you say, “Oh, you know what, mobile or you know, a cloud based integration with a portable screen or whatever, you know, can sell that product. That is the realization a lot of brands have to go through otherwise they continue to build campaigns, they continue to rely on bells and whistles. So sometimes it’s the dumb solutions that are the most exciting. And do you know why they’re most exciting? It’s because they generate revenue and revenue is exciting. So sometimes it’s SMS and mobile web, not you know, high end integrations, very costly integrations with POS, with apps, with things that sound fun but just on driving the tonnage and engagement and reach and  frequency the brands the need.

Rob Woodbridge: So where are, I mean what’s driving revenue now for these guys? Is it that, is it the low level stuff that we’re looking beyond right now, that’s making money?

Gary Schwartz: You know what, what is driving revenue is when you can connect the channels effectively, when you can drive … when you can make sure that between this touch point and that touch point, there’s no dropoff, to make sure that the conversation that started online continues with me and not a competitor into store, into my media, back into my CRM platorm, if you canconnect the dots, you will always be able to win. The problem is, is that there’s a lot of focus on, what do I do in the store and what do I do in my catalogue and then what do I do online? And it’s in between, it’s the cracks … it’s between the cracks the consumer falls.

Rob Woodbridge: Yeah. I love that, I mean I look at mobile as a gap filler, right, and it’s not an elegant way of putting it.

Gary Schwartz: Yeah, well I mean it’s gap filler or maybe it’s a bridge and it’s the ability to…

Rob Woodbridge: That’s an elegant way of putting it.

Gary Schwartz: Well you know, sometimes I also call bridges gap fillers.

Rob Woodbridge: Exactly.

Gary Schwartz: But you know, it allows you to get from one place to another more effectively. And then what it’s doing,  is resuscitating your existing legacy infrastructure and that’s what’s exciting, my gosh, it’s like, “Oh my gosh, my store would be reinvented because I understood how to move somebody from my media into store and into the cloud”, that is very sexy for a retailer because that’s where they need to focus. Mobile is just a means to that end.

Rob Woodbridge: Yeah. Well what’s the big picture for that, I mean is mobile about driving, it has to be about driving new revenue, not just moving revenue from one bucket to another, it has to be new revenue?

Gary Schwartz: No, absolutely, it has to be new revenue and it has to … it has to be new revenue or it has to make sure that I’m driving incremental revenue to my existing touch points. So if I candrive — if I can make sure there are fewer banner shopping carts in the cloud, if I can make surethat there is a less abandoned intent to buy, and I can make sure that that idea actually was executed into my store or the idea in the store wasn’t lost into the Amazon cloud, then I’m a winner. And mobile can do that for you.

Rob Woodbridge: I have to ask, I mean next 12, 18 months, what is getting you excited about? I mean I’m loathe to ask this question because you’re excited about it today, but is there anything that you see that’s coming that you say, “God, I can’t wait for that to arrive?”

Gary Schwartz: You know what, I’m very much a here and now guy and I’m very excited about the future, I’m excited to see what hand Apple plays in the next year. But I know, we know from the IP, you know, tea leaves, that they are totally focused on NFC, that they have patents [inaudible] ties that to iTunes that they now launch in Easypay as a trial in their stores with scanning which is going to die and it’s going to move to much more mature NFC integration. That will be exciting because once the aspirational brand comes in with a strategy, the mobile will validate. And do you know, other things that are exciting, you know, I think the goal is to always look at the future and see where things are going but to be excited by the here and now because if it’s all about the future there is no learning in the present. If you don’t do learning in the present when you get to thefuture you’ve got nothing. And so things like, simple things that retailers can do like take their existing snail mail email which is … I consider email the snail mail of the phone, right?

Rob Woodbridge: Right.

Gary Schwartz: And make sure that you’re creating a messaging channel to the phone through SMS, that is a simple exercise that you can do now that allows you to drive – and stats will hear me out on this –  fivetimes to ten times conversion of your email.  That in and of itself should stop everybody in their tracks and to focus on that because if you have engagement with the consumer, if you can understand how to talk to that consumer in a targeted way on messaging then when the wallet comes down the road, when some amazing mobile evolution is in a not too distant future you’re ready for it.  You have a relationship with the consumer, you understand how they work on the phone, you’ve tied your retail touch points together fluidly through mobile web and messaging and you’re ready for the next big thing.

Rob Woodbridge: Gary, I wish we could talk forever. Thank you so much for bringing in the book, it’s The Impulse Economy, go check it out. Gary, congratulations.

Interview: 10 Mobile Big Things in 2012 (BNN)

Business News Network 7.5 mins: 10 Mobile Big Things in 2012 Gary Schwartz, CEO, Impact Mobile, joins BNN to speak about the 10 big mobile things in 2012.

2012 “Top 10” MOBILE trends & rankings

In a season where every second tweet and Google+ post is a look-back or forward at the “mobile” year, it is sometimes difficult to navigate all the insights. Just Google “Mobile Top 10 . . .” and you will find every blogger, publication and pundit providing their vision of what is newsworthy, trendworthy or simply rankable in mobile.

The proliferation of mobile “Top 10s” is a good thing. It is proof of all the many verticals areas that mobile has intersected. Health, IT, gaming, banking, retail, social, payment, fraud, security, privacy, patent trolling – all now have some form of a top 10 mobile list.

The explosion of the Mobile Top Ten list shows both how disruptive mobile has become and, also, what a massive audience it commands. Top 10-related news headlines seem to drive more hits and be retweeted more than other items.

(Twitter even tweets its top 10 most retweeted tweets. No. 2 being @LilTunechi Lil Wayne WEEZY F “aaaaaaahhhhhhmmmmm baaaaakkkkkkkkkk.” The 2011 top of the top 10 retweets was by Wendy’s restaurants “RT for a good cause. Each retweet sends 50c to help kids in foster care. #TreatItFwd.” Wendy’s raised $1.8 million.)

We seem to all need, what Perry Hoekstra in his blog calls an “Obligatory 2011 Top Ten Mobile Story List.” I presume it helps us simplify this expanding, complex world of mobile. If we can prioritize importance and cut off the discussion at ten, the list can help us make sense of mobile.

Lists also keep us honest. We never are right on half our predictions. Remember our 2010 trends and forecasts? They are out there in the blogosphere for all those with 20/20 hindsight to chuckle.

In December 2010, we all had an opinion on HP webOS-powered tablet plans – that never happened. And where on the list was Google’s purchase of Motorola, ostensibly as fodder for their IP wars against Apple? Missed that one.

But the biggest problem with these lists is their length. In the wasteland of eggnog and turkey dinners, I ask, where are the mobile Clifs Notes? Where is the super-list? Where is the list of lists?

Steve Yankovich, head of mobile for eBay, tells us that the mobile consumer’s attention span is roughly 15 seconds, nose-to-phone. EBay designs its mobile pages for the dwell time at an elevator or the time idling at the red light. Perhaps, in the spirit of mobile efficiency, we better design our year-end prognostications for this small attention-deficit window.

This holiday season, I add to the litany of lists my retrospect and forecast of mobile, but below in 100 words or less.


  1. Facebook timeline set it back in history
  2. Google+ builds circle of trust
  3. Symbian sang swansong
  4. Apple continued to make data a free commodity
  5. Spectrum war showed its dark side
  6. All screens called mobile
  7. Amazon cloud disrupts the mall
  8. Consumer data became jewel in the crown
  9. CarrierIQ poster-child of privacy angst
  10. NFC wallet traded press, not payment


  1. NFC proximity marketing, not proximity payment – yet
  2. X9 (ISO) delivers mobile security recommendations
  3. Apple says “I Do” to NFC
  4. Research In Motion exits stage right
  5. Cloud checkout is optimized and mainstream
  6. Super App = HTML5 browser
  7. Focus on prepaid market services
  8. LTE networks and spectrum become big issues
  9. Mobile privacy hype continues
  10. Microsoft and Nokia enter stage left

Not quite 100 words, but near enough.

Happy Mobile New Year.

Carrier IQ and Starbucks?

 By Gary Schwartz

Now I have your attention, there is an interesting parallel between Carrier IQ and Starbucks that explains a lot about the phantoms we battle in the mobile world.

Remember about one year ago , the news wires were full of security articles on the Starbucks wallet. The Mobile Commerce Daily published a story titled “How to Compromise the Starbucks Rewards Card APP in 90 Seconds.” To compromise the system, the mobile forger could simply photo capture a Starbuck’s 2-D code off an unattended phone and proceed to debit the owner’s prepaid account at any Starbucks café.

The Starbucks mobile stored-value program has the identical functionality of the Starbucks plastic stored-value card. Instead of swiping the card, the Starbuck’s attendant scans the number off the phone via a 2-D code on the phone screen.

What is interesting about this scenario is not the fraud. Plastic stored-value Starbucks cards are stolen, lost, or misused every day. There is limited risk. The wallet is designed for micro-transactions and Starbucks is happy to repay the loyal but irate consumer two lost “No foam Soy Mocha Decaf Lattes”.

As I discussed at length in The Impulse Economy, what is of note is that the mobile misdemeanor gets more press. The phone is more personal than the cowhide wallet and, therefore, under more scrutiny. The mobile phone houses family photos, girlfriend’s SMS, business notes and now a wallet.

Then Carrier IQ arrived.

We woke up to CNN showing the hoodwinked public (care of Trevor Eckhart) that their phone in their pocket had been hijacked. Wired Magazine editors explained that every keystroke, every media selection, every location was recorded by the Carrier IQ software as a Matrix-like data. For the unsuspecting phone owner of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon phones, all this information was recorded.

  • Perhaps our secret SMS messaged are being posted on the cafeteria wall?
  • Our photos and videos screened by the IT department?
  • Our love life the laughing stock of the mailroom?

The fact that the Carrier IQ software is basic diagnostic code installed in the phone to help debug and improve performance on the network and the fact that the code is impossible to read without an IT certificate; all seems immaterial. (Similar diagnostic software can be found on smartphones globally.)

But here is the Starbucks parallel . . .

We did not seem to react when Windows ran the Dr. Watson diagnostic software on our 1995 PC operating system. (The only complaint we had then was it was slowing down the computer and most folk went to their geek squad to dive into the Window’s Registry and disable it.)

Why is Carrier IQ different from Dr. Watson? Why is the Starbuck’s mobile application different from the piece of plastic in our wallet?

Are we more vulnerable on our phone? Should Al Frankin and the nice folk at the FCC be panicking? I do not think so.

Of course, we need to be aware of privacy and security issues related to new technology. Trust needs to be built and trust needs to be kept. We need to proactively work on security and privacy standards ( /

However, the mobile industry is light years ahead of incumbent digital media in self-regulating, self-policing and considerable navel gazing.

The digital incumbents (online and other media) need to look to the mobile industry that has proudly monitored mobile messaging short code provisioning in US unlike Japan and Europe and to Apple who invented the mobile APP has closely monitored provisioning of content on its network.

Is the industry perfect? No. Does it need to work hard to maintain trust? Yes. But in a world where every screen is mobile and soon many wallets; where health, media, fitness, gaming, business, and, of course, communication convergence is happening aggressively on a month-to-month basis, we are going a fantastic job.

(Since this was written on my US smartphone, I hope the industry folk are reading my data now. Send.)