Make mobile shopping fun and easy, while taking advantage of the fact that consumers have their smartphones with them practically all the time.

Ashvin Kumar, co-founder and CEO, Tophatter

Ashvin Kumar, co-founder and CEO, Tophatter

Smartphones are the fastest-growing communications platform in history. GSMA, a global organization of telecom operators, projects that 5.6 billion people will have a mobile phone by 2020. Just as the widespread adoption of the internet in the early 2000’s is now upending the retail landscape, mobile promises to redefine the future of shopping. Retailers should re-examine their e-commerce strategies now and build shopping experiences that are truly mobile-first.

We’ve built our business on the following six pillars of success in mobile commerce:

Entertainment: It Has to be Fun

90% of the top apps in the Android and Apple app stores are mobile games. This shows us that users are downloading apps to provide themselves with entertainment, not just a service.


Shopping has strong parallels to games because both provide a form of entertainment and make us feel better. There is a psychological boost that comes from shopping: Psychology Today reports “fMRI neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions rather than information.”

We aren’t just addicted to our phones, we actually love them.

We strove to make the mobile shopping experience more of a game than the normal occurrence of browsing through pages and pages of products for sale or trying to search by category or keyword. By providing a better, more meaningful emotional experience, we are able to get a higher conversion rate.

Discovery: Getting Found By Solving Problems

On mobile-first experiences, you don’t start with a Google search like you would on a desktop. Many apps are often found by app store discovery, word of mouth, or advertising. The apps that continue to grow in steady download numbers are the ones that make users’ lives easier, such as solving an issue that they may have (e.g. “It’s hard to find gifts for my friends and family”) in a way that requires minimal effort.

On Tophatter, every time a user comes back to the app they see a stream of new products to scroll through. This intuitive user experience focused on fresh, personalized content is also what drives users to Facebook, Instagram, and other popular online destinations. UsabilityGeek cites a Hubspot study that found that 75 percent of users feel “ease of use” should be a website’s most important quality. By offering a highly engaging discovery focused user experience, commerce apps can meet the needs and wants of shoppers and benefit from higher conversion and retention rates.


Snackable: Mobile Users Don’t Like to Commit

Even though conversion rates from a great mobile experience can be higher, mobile is consumed in short bursts. Mobile users have a lot of time but it’s more interrupted. As a result, retailers need to build an experience that’s tailored to the way people use their apps. By building something that is gratifying in short, snackable moments, consumers will continue to use the app.

Smartphones have become an integral part of our society, our lives, and the way we communicate. We aren’t just addicted to our phones, we actually love them, at least according to a 2011 study by the New York Times. While we certainly don’t want to get smartphone users dependent on their technology in an unhealthy way, we can leverage the dopamine rush we get when using apps and use it to our advantage. By making the mobile experience easy and fun in short bursts of use, we keep consumers entertained and feeling good about their experience.

Real-Time: Users Want it Now

It’s safe to assume that everyone is connected all the time. As a result, we have become accustomed to wanting products and services right away. This is part of why Uber became so successful: Getting a ride was easy. You didn’t have to speak to anyone on the phone and you knew exactly how long it was going to take and how much it would cost. Uber users also don’t have to pull out cash or their credit cards to pay: It’s all instantly done in the app.


Commerce can harness this by making both transactions and the shopping experience as easy as possible. Try to get your checkout time down to seconds, not minutes. This is one of the reasons why Tophatter does an auction in 90 seconds instead of 7 days: Users want to find out the results of their auctions almost instantaneously. Think about what you can add to your e-commerce process that utilizes time and ease of use.

Data-Driven Personalization: Make it Unique

How we use our mobile phones says a lot about who we are and what we want. E-commerce retailers can harness the power of data to personalize the shopping experience. Analyze shopping habits and demographic data to provide unique experiences to every user.

Insights into scrolls, taps, hover times, push notification open rates, and other lightweight actions provides retailers with more opportunities to capture valuable data than catalog shopping, TV, and even desktop website usage. Use data to offer suggested products that the consumer may like, which can drive a higher average order amount and a longer time spent in the app.

Push Not Pull: Make Users Take Notice


According to Adweek, almost 80 percent of smartphone users aged 18-44 have their phone within reach 22 hours a day. This gives retailers the unique opportunity to get users’ attention on a device that is around them almost 100 percent of the time.

Because mobile users are now utilizing apps instead of search for many services and needs, apps need to continue to find new ways to be relevant to a consumer’s daily life. The push notification paradigm is unique to mobile and should be leveraged to entice consumers to keep engaging with the app. While there is a fine line between overkill and the perfect amount of intrigue, focus on being genuine and offering deals or news that is of benefit to the customer, not to your company.

Shopping evolves over time. From catalog shopping to QVC on TV and now the mobile commerce experience, retailers have continued to develop better ways to provide a more engaging and fun experience. The value in retail is all about facilitating discovery and giving people what they want. While there are major retailers like Amazon, the shopping giant is less than 10 percent of global e-commerce today. There is plenty of room for others to innovate and grow.

Tophatter offers 90-second deals that shoppers bid on, and claims some 12 million users around the world.