The San Francisco Bay Area is a hotbed of innovation, from startups to technology mainstays. Regardless of company size, the leaders at the helm of each organization have one thing in common—they recognize the value of connectivity. In this spirit, we are launching a Q&A series with executives in the area who are willing to share their knowledge of the power of connectivity and the future of mobile from a business perspective.
To kick off the series, I interviewed Bill Bobbitt, founder and CEO of Move Loot. This fast-growing company is changing the interiors industry with a sustainability-focused business model. The San Francisco startup buys, curates and sells pieces from its website and easy-to-use app, offering a wide array of secondhand furniture with varied aesthetics and frequently Ikea-comparable prices.
1. How do Move Loot and its customers rely on mobile devices to do business?
As Move Loot continues to grow and reach new customers, mobile devices are playing an increasingly crucial role in our business. At its core, Move Loot is dedicated to easing the hassle we associate with buying and selling furniture, and our mobile app helps facilitate that ease by cutting out extra steps throughout the process. We are making the experience as frictionless and accessible as possible from mobile devices. That means having the ability to snap a photo of a couch you’re selling using the camera on your mobile device, being able to browse our constantly changing inventory or using a mobile payment app to collect your profits from a Move Loot sale. Ultimately, we think buying and selling furniture should be as easy as pulling your phone out of your pocket, pressing a few buttons and scheduling a delivery or pick-up within minutes — and our mobile app does just that. We currently have an iOS app that reports heavy usage, and we will be releasing our Android app very soon. Stay tuned!
2. How do you feel the mobile industry has evolved over the past five years?
The mobile industry has grown explosively over the past five years. Today, our phones are an extension of ourselves - they go wherever we go and have become necessary to our day-to-day lives. We’re seeing more sites optimize for mobile, more customers using mobile apps and social media to interact with brands and each other, and more companies implementing mobile strategies to reach new customers and strengthen lasting loyalty with repeat customers. Five years ago, the mobile industry was in its infancy. It continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, and it’s exciting to imagine where we’ll be in another five years.
3. How has mobile affected your industry in particular?
The furniture industry as a whole is fairly staid. There are, however, a handful of players using mobile in interesting, innovative ways to appeal to a younger, tech-savvy demographic. Augmented reality mobile apps that enable shoppers to see what a couch in a showroom would look like in their living rooms, or schedule deliveries according to their own schedules, are moving the space forward, and that’s not even taking into account the rise of mobile commerce! The ability to buy a dining room set on the go or redesign your living room using just a mobile device is an entirely new concept and one that’s giving the furniture and interiors industry a much-needed dose of innovation.
4. What does it mean to be connected in your world of business?
Personally, I think being connected is critical for managing a high-growth business, but it is equally critical to prioritize effectively and not burn out. My personal strategies are to: a) respond to every email by the end of the day, b) only leave messages in my inbox that represent a “to-do” list, and c) acknowledge whether an email is asking for the scheduling of a phone call or an in-person meeting. If it is not urgent, my response is merely an acknowledgement of receipt with expected timeline for resolution. I do not use many apps for fun, but I do use several that make my life more convenient. Most of these focus around transportation (you can guess which ones I mean), ordering food, or amazing “stuff”-related services (have you heard of Move Loot?).
5. What role will mobile and/or connectivity play in your business in the coming years?
Mobile connectivity allows us to continuously improve upon the goal of making the buying and selling experience effortless, whether it’s alerts of the perfect product being posted sent directly to your phone, GPS-enabled tracking of our logistics team en route to your door or a one-click method for selling your furniture. Our business hinges on making a bulky, fragmented business seem seamless to the user, and we are excited to innovate alongside the major strides to come in mobile camera and user connectivity functionality.
6. What recommendation would you make for a company that hasn’t yet incorporated mobile into their business?
Test usability and usefulness with your current core user. Don’t go mobile just for fun - it’s going to be an investment, so do it right, especially if you have an existing dedicated user base. Mobile is important in commerce, social, messaging and many other industries, but desktop-first is a very real concept in others. Furniture is traditionally bought on desktop. It’s a meditated purchase, and people often like seeing as many photos with as much detail as possible. We are continually testing our hypotheses to build a mobile experience that is accretive to our desktop product. One example of this is allowing users to share carts between mobile and web, promoting an on-the-go shopping experience with a follow-up purchase on desktop. Mobile is a valuable tool, but it may be surprising how it unlocks an entirely different behavior from desktop.
Interested in hearing from a particular CEO in the Bay Area? Tweet to let me know who you’d like me to interview @heidiflato.