Maximizing Mobile Commerce
Build a better mobile app for your customers with these features

With mobile commerce use expected to grow to 45 percent of total ecommerce in the U.S. by 2020, chances are your customers will appreciate a mobile app for your business. A survey of more than 500 ecommerce app users revealed that consumers want an app that does more than let them browse and buy.

Apps that offer a personalized ‘in-store’ experience, recommendations based on past purchases or customer profiles, and direct purchasing capabilities score big among mobile shoppers, according to results from the survey conducted by business resource provider Clutch.

Whether you’ve already got a mobile app, or you’re considering creating one, you’ll want to incorporate one or all of these options to enhance the user experience and increase customer satisfaction.

1. Encourage socialization. Incorporating features such as chat capabilities and augmented reality features—showing clients how a product will appear in ‘real life’, for example—encourages users to interact with one another, adding another level of personalization.

2. Integrate a rewards program. Recognize loyalty among customers with a rewards program, and give users a way to cash in on it through your app, without a special account number or code.

3. Offer app-only deals and discounts. The chance to receive discounts makes users more likely to shop through a mobile app, and they appreciate receiving exclusive discounts on items similar to those they’ve bought previously.


ROWE Your Company In A New Direction
Abandon the traditional idea of equating time and results, and see how much more can be accomplished at work.

Your employees are spot-on when it comes to punching a clock. They arrive bright and early, and consistently put in the hours expected—sometimes more—while participating in activities not directly related to their work. But are the end results reflective of their time in the office? If not, you might consider an alternate approach to bringing out the best in your staff.

Eschew the expectation that being at work equates to doing work, and try instituting a Results-Only Work Environment, or ROWE. This approach evaluates employees by the results of their work, not by the amount of time they spend at their workstations. It’s a giant culture shift, and certainly not ideal for every type of business. But for companies willing to give it a go, ROWE system creators Cali Resser and Jody Thompson offer these guidelines to make the transition as seamless as possible:

1. People at all levels only do the tasks that further the company’s goals or produce the expected results of their respective positions.

2. Employees are free to work any way they want, on a schedule that fosters productivity.

3. Time off is unlimited as long as the required work is done.

4. No one is judged by how they spend their time, or by when they arrive and when they leave.

5. Work isn’t a place to go—it’s something to do.

Born out of an initiative to help electronics retailer Best Buy achieve the Employer of Choice recognition for its corporate headquarters, the ROWE philosophy was built on the employee sentiment, “Trust me with my time. Trust me to do my job.” The resulting strategies led to an increase in productivity that averaged 35 percent, and a decrease in voluntary turnover by as much as 90 percent.

Johnson says ROWE works when managers make expectations for end results clear and are committed to consistent check-ins, whatever they may look like. When employees understand why they do their jobs, they can prioritize the tasks that help achieve that outcome.


 FIve Minutes With Steve Granland, CEO of Australasian Promotional Products Association

APPA CEO Steve Granland shares his team’s  road map to growing the association and the industry in Australia and New Zealand

Nearly two years into his tenure as CEO of Australasian Promotional Products Association (APPA), Steve Granland has big goals for APPA and for the industry in Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. Granland visited North Texas in October to meet with the PPAI board of directors and participate in PPAI’s Leadership Development Workshop. PPB spoke with him about how he and his team plan to accomplish their goals, and how collaborating with PPAI and other associations is part of the APPA strategy.

PPB  How long have you served as CEO for APPA, and in what other roles (if any) have you served?

Granland I took up the role of CEO of the Australasian Promotional Products Association in early 2016. I have over 20 years’ CEO and senior management experience working with industry associations in the marketing, recruitment, finance and human resources sectors across Australia and New Zealand. Prior to entering the world of professional association management, I worked with a major Australian commercial bank for 10 years, including a 12-month posting in Shanghai. I have a banking and finance undergraduate degree and a postgraduate qualification in marketing.

PPB  What are some of the challenges APPA member companies are facing, and how is the association addressing them?

Granland  I think that the challenges faced by APPA members are similar to those faced by PPAI members. Key challenges include low barriers to entry, price lead competition, direct sourcing by end users from overseas and attracting and retaining quality staff.

We address these challenges by focusing on delivering on key elements of our strategic plan and, at the same time, ensuring we do not lose sight of the opportunities, which include utilizing and profiling the data which continues to support the value of promotional products, increasing focus on supply chain validity and responsibility (and the impact on the brand if it goes wrong), building on the significant innovation in our industry and establishing stronger and mutually beneficial relationships with our colleagues at PPAI who have been so supportive in my short time to date at APPA.

PPB  You attended PPAI’s Leadership Development Workshop in October. What are some takeaways from the event that you are implementing or sharing with APPA leaders and members?

Granland I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity by Paul Bellantone, CAE, and the PPAI team to attend the event. From an operational perspective, it has provided me with a deeper understanding of how PPAI has so successfully tapped into the industry and the passion of the volunteer pool. I also had the opportunity to connect directly with many PPAI employees and volunteers, and I can now look forward to building on those relationships. On a practical level, the opportunity to take part in educational sessions focused on the Get In Touch! campaign and Redefining the Trade Show Experience has provided me with great tips and tools to move forward with the process of change at APPA.

PPB  What major differences do you see between the U.S. promotional products industry and the Australasian industry? 

Granland  Certainly, there is a scale difference both in terms of PPAI and APPA and our respective industries. APPA serves more than 800 members throughout Australia and New Zealand. The industry employs roughly 20,000 people and earns approximately $2 billion a year. However, I do believe that we share many common challenges and opportunities and, given this, we have a unique opportunity to collaborate for the benefit of all.

PPB  How would you like to see your association collaborate with PPAI and/or other international associations (e.g. Canada, Mexico)?

Granland  I am a great believer in the power of collaboration at all levels. From the moment I joined APPA I was actively encouraged by APPA board members to reach out to PPAI. Early on, I decided to formally align with the best international bodies and I knew that PPAI was one such organization.  

The staff at PPAI has been very supportive and willing to assist in any way, including providing me with ongoing direct support and assistance, establishing foundations of a possible education/accreditation partnership, and presenting the opportunity to collaborate with PPAI to increase influence via its programs such as Get In Touch! and Promotional Products Work!

In addition to making ourselves available for advice, resources and the experiences of other international associations, I also think there are other opportunities we could explore, such as international research opportunities and exchange programs focused on providing the tools and resources we need to ensure our industry grows globally. 

PPB  What is your goal for members of APPA and for the association itself, and how are you and your team (staff and board) working to reach those goals?

Granland  Our goal is to ensure promotional product marketing is recognized by marketers and business people in Australia and New Zealand as an essential part of the brand and marketing communications toolkit; to ensure promotional product marketing rivals other specialized marketing fields for share of wallet, curriculum coverage, career, commentary and perceived value. We strive for our members to be recognized as leaders in their creative fields and to demonstrate a commitment to innovation and excellence.

In 2016 the APPA board, in committing to these goals, agreed to actively pursue the following four Strategic Outcomes: 

1. APPA membership is necessary for success and is attractive, understood, sought after and retained. APPA membership provides highly valued benefits.

2. APPA events and education programs are recognized by members and participants as the default source of events and education within the industry. APPA provides consistently high-quality events and continuing professional education across multiple channels.  

3. APPA input, research, guidance and advice are sought after by key marketing stakeholders. APPA’s position in relation to key industry issues is clear and understood by all stakeholders. 

4. APPA members are recognized as setting the industry benchmark through adherence to APPA standards. The APPA code of conduct and APPA awards are recognized as the quality industry standard and are key member attraction and retention tools. Existing and prospective clients and candidates understand and value this important, tangible difference between a member and a nonmember.

In working toward achieving these goals we have, over the past 18 months, rolled out several key changes:   

  • Established formal relationships with the U.S. (PPAI), UK (BPMA) and Canada (PPPC) with focus on driving value for APPA members via these relationships.
  • Launched APPA Education (including webinars, face to face and online training).
  • Rebuilt APPA member communications focusing on quality, engaging and valued content.
  • Built formal relationships with key stakeholders including the Australian Marketing Institute, New Zealand Marketing, Government Ministers, regulators and key specialist marketing media.
  • Launched an APPA charitable initiative, The APPA Foundation, in partnership with Good360 and Promotional Products Insurance.
  • Reviewed and relaunched the APPA Code and APPA Awards.
  • Partnered with PPAI in launching Promotional Products Work/Get in Touch!in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Commenced the process of rebuilding the APPA Member database and website with focus on delivering a positive member experience.


A Little Bit Closer Now
Near field communication tech enhances marketers’ efforts to engage customers

Getting a customer to remember the business that gives out promo items takes more than a creative product. In the early days, the company name was front and center, followed soon by an address. Then came phone numbers, websites, email addresses and, finally, quirky looking QR codes—all printed on the surface of mugs, magnets, pens and calendars. 

The latest means of connecting with consumers through promotional products involves near field communication, or NFC. Norway-based Thinfilm Electronics is integrating NFC technology into labeling and packaging solutions, allowing users to access brand information just by tapping their mobile phones to a label. The company has recently acquired its first partner in the media and film industry—NFC Swag, a division of digital media agency KEY Difference Media.

NFC Swag’s product offerings include phone stands and pogs—round, flat discs similar to poker chips—embedded with NFC technology to connect brands directly to consumers through what it calls “phygital networks.” Thinfilm solutions  are expected to help NFC Swag’s clients more quickly  generate leads, track engagement and ROI, and build customer loyalty.