Mobile Searching vs. Finding

by Net Future Institute on March 19, 2013

For mobile shoppers, a simple search may not be enough.

The news story today about mobile searching points out that most searches are done from home. This makes perfect sense, in the context of search, but let me suggest there’s a difference between searching and finding.

When searching, say, from home, a person may have an idea of what they’re looking for, such as viewing a Staples catalog to look at weekly sales items or searching for a particular company website if they don’t have that company’s app. This type of search is essentially premeditated, with the searcher having some idea of what they’re looking for.

When the mobile shopper is out and about, it’s not so much about searching as it is about finding.

When out shopping, people on the go don’t need to know all the available options everywhere. They typically need to know what that is relevant is near them now.

A host of factors come in to play here. These include location, movement, proximity to any given product or service, time of day, context and intent, to name a few.

In this context, a traditional search such as via Google may be less relevant.

For example, a mobile consumer may use Yelp to find the best restaurant or ice cream in the area. They may use the Explore feature of Foursquare to find nearby places, leveraging the digital breadcrumb knowledge left at those places by others before them. In those cases, the ‘find’ results are from other people.

The shopper may be walking by a mall and receive an opted-in push notification for a particular  item on sale. They could be in a store and receive a targeted and valuable offer when they open a website while shopping.

In all these cases, the mobile shopper is finding something but without conducting a traditional search. And maybe there’s a lot of mobile finding going on under the radar.

  Chuck Martin is editor of mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk. He is author of “The Third Screen,” “The Smartphone Handbook,” and the soon-to-be-published “Mobile Influence.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute and a frequent mobile keynote speaker around the globe.

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