THREE KEY THINGS RETAILERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE FACEBOOK PHONE

by / Wednesday, 03 April 2013 / Published in E-Commerce, Facebook, Interaction Design
(BEFORE ANY OF US HAVE SEEN IT, TOUCHED IT OR YOU KNOW, ACTUALLY LIKE USED IT)

Facebook will unveil its phone Thursday. Chances are, it won’t change the world. Why? Because the phone is a reflection of how the world has already changed rather than a shiny new device that is going to transport us to new heights.

But while the launch doesn’t warrant stocking up on either champagne or canned goods, it is a good reminder to pause and take stock of the three key things this event signals for retailers.

WHY SHOULD RETAILERS CARE:

1: IT’S OFFICIAL: SOCIAL’S PEANUT BUTTER IS IN MOBILE’S CHOCOLATE

Ultimately this is not about a phone. It’s not even about Facebook. It’s about the fact that social interactions are increasingly mobile. Which makes complete sense. People have more to say and share when they are on the go or on their couches watching TV.

50% of Facebook interactions take place on a mobile device. Almost all of Instagram & FourSquare use is mobile (Comscore Media Metrix 11/12).

Takeaway for retailers: Don’t worry about designing websites for a special phone. Think about how your customers are using mobile and social to shop. This impacts how you reach them and where transactions will take place. Hint: Shopping will be the next peanut butter – but bacon flavored of course.

2: “DIGITAL EFFORT” IS DEAD

Some are heralding the importance of the phone’s experience. By “experience” they mean everything Facebook is more or less automatic and seamless. From streaming status updates to your phone home screen to connecting your actions to your social graph, the design is reported to be more personal and customizable than that of the mobile Facebook app the rest of us poor slobs are hobbling along with.

Again, this is not about the phone or Facebook. Really, it’s about human nature. If necessity is the mother of invention, Laziness is the baby daddy. If you put it right in front of us, we might look at it. But if we have to download/register/type/think, well then you will lose “eyeballs.”

Takeaway for retailers: Surfacing, integrating and connecting are the new “designing.” Stop designing digital shopping experiences that require user effort/sign-in/registering etc. and start designing systems and features that magically surface what the customer wants and needs at each juncture.

3: IT’S NEVER EVER EVER ABOUT THE HARDWARE. IT’S ABOUT THE PLATFORM.

Not many people care that the Facebook phone platform is reported to be MSM8960 (Dual Core). And neither do we. Why? Because we don’t design for hardware, we design for people. And people need agnostic platforms that provide what they want and need, regardless of the device they are on.

The most interesting thing to emerge Thursday will not be the phone but rather the “Facebook Home” software. The software will potentially provide the Facebook home screen for any Android and let you Facebook chat while using other phone features, among other things. In other words, Facebook might be getting better for all Androids – not just the special Facebook phone.

Takeaway for retailers: Don’t get caught up in the technology. Focus on creating adaptable, transportable digital shopping experiences that provide the best features for everyone everywhere regardless of their device.

Like thousands, we will watch the Facebook phone launch webcast Thursday and read all of the reviews and probably buy one for “research purposes.” But the real news has already happened. The Facebook phone is just a reminder call that easy, everywhere experiences are a must.

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