Christmas is upon us.  I’ve been spending a great deal of time looking at mobile trends related to holiday shopping recently.  I was led down this path shortly after I “liked” the Things Remembered Facebook page.  What caught my eye was a thread on one of their particular gifts and the many comments that were placed there from former and current customers.  Each had purchased and then customized that particular gift and noted what a special gift it turned out to be for their grandmother, mother, sister, or cousin.  Given that my wife and I struggle each year to determine a great gift for our families I pointed this out to my wife while she sat beside me on the couch and three or four taps later we had checked a couple of our gifts off the list.  After that experience I began to dwell on the process that led me to become a customer in this way.  I’d purchased from Things Remembered before, in the brick and mortar store, but had never made such a purchase online.  What gets credit for my purchase?  Was it the website?  Was it the social media presence?  Was it the mobile website?  Was it the customer engagement and reference?  In the end I believe it is all those things…it is the experience.  I believe it was the artful connection of customers to products through technology that led to my purchase.  It was creativity.

Later in the same weekend I walked by the kitchen counter and came upon two Christmas gift lists from my kids.  They had presented them to my wife earlier and she’d left them for me to review.  Typically I have very little to do with the Christmas purchase process but in this case I was intrigued.  What peaked my interest was the fact that nearly 75% of the items on the list were Angry Birds items.  I was amused, but took the issue no further.  Later that same day my wife was diligently tapping away on her iPad and then said “Wow, I can’t believe the Mighty Eagle costs this much”.  For those of you who are not addicted to Angry Birds you may not realize what this is referring to.  I, being fully addicted, recognized this immediately.  I moved to sit beside my wife to realize that she was making a shopping cart full of Angry Birds items.  The Mighty Eagle, at a cost of $104, didn’t make it into the cart.  Many other items did, to the tune of about $250.  I began to dig a bit as I couldn’t understand how the kids had developed the list.  Did my wife walk them through the Angry Birds site?  She went on to show me on the kids’ iPad that you could connect directly to the store by using the Angry Birds app.  Each of our kids has an iPad and iTouch and had, independently, spent enough time on the Angry Birds site to develop their complete list.  These items, which apparently can’t be found anywhere else, comprised the bulk of the Christmas list and I couldn’t help but notice what was obviously a very profitable enterprise on the part of the “Angry Birds” organization.  They had managed to take a free game, originally developed to upsell you to a 99 cent purchase, and turned it into a lead generation prop for their online store (effectively).  Was it technology?  Was it their social media presence?  Was it the website?  Again it was an artful connection of customers to products through technology.  It was, yet again, creativity.

We here at Smart Online are very interested in connecting the creative people to their customers.  These scenarios are the kind that we have in mind – enabling the creative people to take control of their mobile destiny by breaking the paradigm of handing off good ideas to technologists and then hoping for the best.  If you have an app out there already and want to make a change that opens up a profitable business why not just go and do that yourself, and save yourself the work of trying to take your idea and put it in a list to hand off to external vendors or internal IT people. Simply pop into a SaaS environment, create the changes to the app, and immediately move them into testing.  I’m amazed every day by the ways that creative people are able to put those ideas into play with technology. That is what excites us here at Smart Online.