3 exciting start-ups leading the way in mobile commerce
Mobile e-commerce is enabling entirely new services. Here’s how three revolutionary start-ups are succeeding
“We’ve reached an interesting point in the development of mobile commerce,” says Ryan Perera, CEO and founder of Henchman. “What we’re seeing is a coming together of mobile technology and a range of services that have previously been thought of as ‘offline’.”
Ryan Perera cites Uber as an example of how mobile has been used to revolutionise the traditional taxi cab industry.
His London-based app enables users to order goods from retail stores and restaurants for rapid delivery via an army of drivers from early morning through to late evening.
Start-ups leading the way
At one level, mobile e-commerce is simply a matter of consumers and business customers transferring activities from PCs to mobile. But that’s only part of the story.
It’s a field in which innovation thrives, and although banks and retailers have their mobile strategies, much of the most interesting and pioneering work is being done by start-ups and early stage companies. We talked to three of the best about their approach to creating a great mobile experience.
Orderella – Beating the queues
Orderella is a service that could really only exist in the smartphone era. Working in partnership with bars and restaurants, Orderella enables users to order food and drink through a smartphone app, without having to queue.
Customers simply key in a credit card number when they open an account. When the order is processed, the customer simply waits for it to be delivered to a table or goes to pick it up at a designated section of the bar. Payment is automated, via the app.
According to Dennis Collet, CEO and co-founder, who decided to create the business while queuing for the bar, simplicity for the customer and bar staff alike is the key to a compelling mobile experience: “For consumers, using an app must be easy and intuitive; anything complicated and you risk losing their interest.”
When an Orderella user goes into one of more than 200 participating bars, the venue is identified using location-based software.
And Collet believes his audience is seeking alternatives to constantly using credit and debit cards. “We recently worked with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) on a report into the role of technology in the hospitality industry and found that over a third (38%) of 18-34 year olds would walk out of a pub if it didn’t accept their preferred payment choice and almost half of all consumers (45%) would try new methods of payment to get served sooner. We want to make sure that every venue we’re in can meet this demand by offering a choice of payment options through Orderella.”
Henchman – The delivery servant
Ryan Perera’s Henchman allows customers to order goods from shops and restaurants and have them delivered within 60 minutes.
Although the service can be accessed via a PC, Perera says 95% of users prefer mobile and his vision was to make ordering goods as simple as texting. “You key in retailer or restaurant, then name the goods, then place the order,” he says.
It’s an approach that requires not only a customer-friendly interface but also a secure and flexible payment process platform that ensures transactions are handled smoothly using the customers’ preferred cards. “We exclusively use Braintree as part of our checkout flow utilising its ‘enter card details once’ model. It facilitates easy integration for both our website and iOS app,” says Perera.
Customers can also track the delivery, which is made via a network of drivers in London. Meanwhile, the company can trace and deploy drivers using the same technology. Drivers can trade customers through GPS and message with updates.
JustPark – A business made for mobile
Founded by Alex Stephany, JustPark is one of the most successful exponents of the ‘sharing’ or ‘collaborative’ business model. In its case, the sharing model takes the form of parking slot providers – ranging from individuals with a space on their drive to city car park operators or hotels – offering spaces to motorists via an online marketplace.
The JustPark experience, says Stephany, has to be tailored for mobile users. “Our mobile experience is much more curated than the desktop equivalent,” he says. “Desktop users are more likely to browse and do extensive research than they would on mobile.” As such the key to a good experience is to ensure the mobile experience allows drivers and providers to carry out relatively simple transactions quickly and efficiently.
However, as Stephany stresses, creating a compelling experience is not just about the mobile interface – the underpinning technology is vital: “We have always been focused on technology that can be scaled. Many people have tried to do parking and failed. We have succeeded because of the way we handle data.”
Payment technology is crucial. And for a young technology company, Stephany says, a key consideration is to buy into technologies that can be built onto existing systems without incurring high costs. JustPark uses Braintree, which integrates a range of solutions across iOS (with the ability to accept Apple Pay), Android and the web, to facilitate its payments.
Ease of integration is increasingly crucial in the mobile business space where an increasing number of transactions are being handled by an e-wallet system. Bitcoin too has quickly emerged as an accepted currency and is something Braintree facilitates through a partnership with the digital currency marketplace Coinbase.
Creating a ‘frictionless’ experience
Ultimately, a compelling mobile experience is about more than the interface – it has to be a ‘frictionless’ experience too. Henchman, JustPark, and Orderella all work with partners or suppliers, such as Braintree, that help to coordinate complex logistics and simplify payment. Increasingly, GPS is enabling the provision of location-based services. But at the customer end, simplicity is key.
This article was produced in partnership with Braintree, a payments platform that allows merchants to accept credit and debit cards, PayPal, and Apple Pay with a snippet of code. Uber, Airbnb, and GitHub as well as thousands of other merchants use Braintree in 46 countries. To learn more, visit Braintreepayments.com or @braintree.