Kellogg Magazine  |  Spring/Summer 2015




Alumni weigh in on the rise of m-commerce


E-commerce, or online in lieu of in a retail store, is now part of everyday life. From mom-and-pop shops to, retailers have made it easier than ever to purchase anything you need from the comfort of your home, as long as you have an Internet connection and a credit or debit card.

But shopping on your mobile phone — or m-commerce — is an evolving trend that has different psychological implications. Jared Simon ’02, co-founder and chief operating officer of hotel search app HotelTonight, and Chhaya Dave ’05, senior director of product management for, discuss the ways m-commerce differs from shopping on a computer or in a brick-and-mortar store.

Are consumers’ habits different on mobile apps than on a desktop or laptop computer?

Simon: Mobile purchases tend to be more spontaneous. We’ve found that consumers prefer a much more focused experience with mobile apps. Desktop websites can get away with longer product lists and more clutter from callouts and other design flourishes. But the most effective mobile experiences are clean and focused.

Dave: It depends on the industry. With Walgreens, for example, people use mobile for very specific tasks like pharmacy and photo orders. On, a lot of the browsing happens on a desktop computer. But as they get closer to a purchase, certainly mobile plays a much bigger role because there’s a lot more chatting, texting and engagement with the dealer.

How does online purchasing (e- or m-commerce) impact retail purchasing in general?
S: Mobile commerce is a good companion that allows you to use the real world to inform your decisions and empowers you when you’re actually shopping in person, because you can research products in the store. Many of our customers love the service because it empowers them to check out a neighborhood in person before booking their hotel for the night.

D: If you asked me that question a year ago or the year before, my answer would’ve been that retail and foot traffic are as strong as ever. But now, people can have clothing delivered to their homes, try them out and return them if necessary, and the process has never been easier. I don’t think specialty shops that cater to niche audiences are going anywhere because the trend with the new generation is that they are very specific and unique. If anything, specialty stores will become more niche, but big-box stores will probably have to start rethinking their strategies.

Are there increased safety concerns related to making purchases on mobile devices versus desktops or laptops?
S: I think there are valid concerns, but you just have to deal with reputable companies that aren’t fly-by-night. The nice thing about mobile apps is you can look at ratings and discussions from past users in a way that you can’t on a regular website. We do take security very seriously and have implemented innovative ways to secure commerce on our app.

D: Security and protocols will just get better as the technologies evolve, and it’s the Facebooks, Twitters and Googles of the world that help with that. Anything digital is accessible in any corner of the world, but the industry will keep up with the changing dynamics.

Interviews condensed and edited for clarity.

Jared Simon '02   Chhaya Dave '05
After Kellogg: Before co-founding HotelTonight in 2010 with Sam Shank ’04, Simon worked for TurnHere, a web video/photo aggregation company.

"Yes. Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, and the key to succeeding on any platform is designing a service that maximizes its particular strengths."
After Kellogg: Before joining Cars. com in 2003, Chhaya worked in a product management capacity for several companies, including Sears and Walgreens.

"There is no doubt they can. This is the era of omnichannel commerce; if you put items in your Amazon shopping cart from your desktop or laptop, you will be able to push the buy button from the integrated tablet built into the refrigerator."