Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Mobile & Moms

Update with a link below...

I've shared reports in the past about mobile, which in most cases is smart phones.

Even before the iPhone and Droid, I made the observation that a phone was going to be the lifeline that many people hang on to... I've seen homeless people with all of their possessions in a backpack who had a cellphone.

My step-daughter lost her phone for a few hours and said she lost her "life".

No, she's not homeless, in a few years she will become one of these Mobile Moms talked about in this report from Mediapost:

Yeah, There's An App For That ...

My iPhone is overflowing with apps. Okay, I admit that I let my kids download one too many games -- maybe a few during dinners in restaurants where I would have paid a thousand dollars for them just to quiet down and sit still for a few minutes. Yes, guilty of purchasing the full bells and whistles version of "Cut the Rope," but a peaceful dinner seemed worth the $2.99 toll. Nonetheless, there are all kinds of apps from maps to cooking to shopping to an NFL sports ticker. They are a reflection of all the aspects of my life and most of them are incredibly useful, especially the NFL one.

However, there are some apps that, after I loaded, set up accounts and organized my information; I wished I could apply for the time rebate. Complete wastes of the time that they were supposed to save me. My favorite "bad app" is for grocery shopping that I downloaded under the premise of "saving money and time." It seemed good on paper, easy to use, barcode scanner, price checker, calorie information. Easy and useful? Bah, humbug.

Here are my complaints in no particular order:

1. Don't offer me coupons for chains of stores that are not in my region of the country. I love Kroger and all, being from the Midwest, but we don't have this store in Boston. Has geo-targeting not come further, I mean I did spend all that time loading my personal information, including my address and zip code.

2. Don't make it harder that it needs to be. I usually can get in and out of the grocery store in under 30 minutes if it is not a busy shopping hour. I purposely went with my new app when it was quieter so I could really shop without confusion. It took me almost an hour and a half just to get through my shopping list and price checking. I was close to a hostage situation by the time I got to the dairy aisle.

3. I love the immediate coupon transfer attempt to my loyalty card but ... It would have been so worth it if it hadn't slowed the check-out line down to a dead stop. You know those people who make a lot of exasperated noises behind you in line while you look for your bank card at the bottom of a messy handbag? Yeah, they are not any happier to see you trying to get service by holding your phone like the Statue of Liberty while your coupons download to your frequent buyer card. Trust me. Good idea, bad execution.

4. Keep it simple. The guide to the app, version 3.2.2 had more pages than my last real paper phone book. (Do they still make those?) It included the ability to upload pictures of my favorite items, in case I forgot what they looked like; international setting adjustments in case I was at a Kroger in Paris; and a section called Data Objects complete with a diagram explaining the relationship between the items, the store and the buyer. Really?

I could go on for pages but suffice to say that I learned a great lesson from this exercise. I am guessing that somewhere in that big corporate grocery HQ, someone in a planning meeting said, "We need an app for that" and in their attempt to make the app robust and worthy, they included everything but the kitchen sink, which only served to make it confusing and complicated.

I don't need a Data Object diagram to go to the grocery store. I want to go to the store with a list, a list that includes the items that I buy over and over, same brand, same size. I would like to get coupons for the items that I buy and need. I would like to be rewarded for my loyalty of choosing the same store over and over. I would like to receive offers that really apply to me and my family. I would like it if someone would carry my bags to the car and load it for me. Okay, maybe the last one was pushing it, but can someone please tell me: is there really an app for that?

Kimberly Jackson is an editorial strategist at King Fish Media, a custom media firm. Kimberly is a former executive at Ziff Davis, Carat Interactive and a mom of three kids.

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