Mobile Barcoding

Mobile BarcodeWell Amazon have entered the fray and have added a nice new feature to their iPhone mobile shopping app. Users can now scan a barcode on a product and instantly get matching product and pricing information from Amazon’s catalogue allowing them to comparison shop as they are are walking through a store.

According to Amazon, its sales from mobile devices surpassed $1 billion last year so this new added functionality is only going to help drive this revenue stream.

This follows eBay and Google who have both already made their entries into this space. eBay recently purchasing RedLaser and Google adding barcode scanning to their Product Search last year.

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Mobile Site vs Mobile App?

I saw a good article recently that was looking to address that quandary faced by marketers looking to engage with their audience in the mobile channel: What do you build first?

Do you build the mobile website before or after building a mobile application, be it for Android, iPhone, Blackberry or whatever platform you want to reach? Or would you be better off starting with an app?

Technology.Inc provide a helpful resource for marketers struggling to answer that question – a checklist of six items that should help steer the decision making process:

1. Utility: To reach the broadest audience, you need a mobile website. If you go with an app, you’ll have to continue to develop apps for the most popular platforms.

2. Need: Local businesses (think restaurants, retail shops) do better with mobile websites because customers generally just need basic information like a phone number or address. When the product is a service, like finance or transportation, apps are better. Apps are also better when usage is heavy.

3. Traffic: Apps are better for situations when you want to push a lot of information to customers, or when repeated interaction is likely. Also, if your website is already seeing a lot of traffic from mobile devices, you should launch a mobile site promptly.

4. Content: Text-based content often does well on a mobile site, while media-rich content is generally better within an app.

5. Availability: If you rely on and see a lot of search engine referrals for discovery about your business, you should consider building a mobile website. Mobile searches will reveal your site, but would not point to your app.

6. Cost: If cost is an important factor, consider a mobile website, which costs 50%-80% of the cost of building your main website. The article also quoted Aaron Maxwell of Mobile Web Up, a mobile design firm for businesses, saying that a well-done mobile app can cost as much as $35,000-$50,000 on each platform. (There are low-cost alternatives, however).