Would someone please build a decent store?

Konny ZsigoIs anybody out there as frustrated as I am? I can't find a decent mobile content store out there--not one. They all have huge problems and seemingly no sense of urgency on fixing any of those problems. If I had at least one decent store that I could hold up as an example I'd finally have some ammunition against the others. But I don't. They all stink.

There are at least three different groups of companies creating storefronts. Not all of them, incidentally, were created in response to Apple's success. In fact, many of them have been around a lot longer, which means they had a huge head start and should be amazing right now, but they're not. There are carrier storefronts, independent storefronts and handset manufacturer storefronts. Dozens of them in the U.S. marketplace alone selling mobile games, apps, ringtones, wallpapers, videos and so on. And yet, it seems with all that choice we really don't have very much choice at all. Each of them has a limitation, or issue, or some big glaring problem that prevents it from succeeding in a way that all of us need them to.

Reporting. Probably my biggest single complaint is reporting. The content we're selling is digital, the storefront is digital, the transaction is digital, yet the reporting is ... manual? The first thing about reporting is that it needs to be on-demand, and it needs to be instant. If something is sold, we should know immediately, not at the end of the month, or the end of the quarter, or 30 days after the end of the quarter. Repeatedly, I am told that the reason I can't get reporting immediately is that it is un-reconciled and might be wrong. Well duh. Maybe the user's credit card won't clear, or they won't pay their bill, or maybe they slipped through the cracks and made an illegal purchase. We know all this and we know it's not accounting grade detail, but it's still very valuable and we can't wait even three days to get it.

We also need to know a lot more about how and when the sale was made. If a report tells us that 265 copies of a specific mobile game were sold yesterday, there are many unanswered questions. First, what category were the game sales made from? If the sales came from the "What's New" category vs. the "Board Games" category, that's vitally important. Sounds simple, but we don't even know what the word "yesterday" means. What time zone is "yesterday?" At what time of day were the sales made?

We also need to know a whole lot more about the person that made the purchase. For example, has this person ever bought mobile content before, or are we responsible for their "first time purchase?" What else were they looking at before they decided to buy my product?

When we run marketing campaigns, some stores allow us to pass in an affiliate ID code of some kind. Of course, we want an unlimited number of IDs that we can trace all the way back to the banner ad that produced the purchase. Do you think we can get that? Heck no...

Instead, in many cases we have to ask for an affiliate code, and getting one is a big deal. And that's ONE code. I want a million codes!! Do you know what I can do with one lousy code? All I can do is tell you that a person made a purchase from one of multiple simultaneous campaigns, but not which one. So that means I have no idea which marketing campaign is effectively converting customers. Useless?

And I also have a beef about how I get the reporting. Most of our reporting comes in Excel spreadsheets produced somewhere by little elfkins that can't always add. It's true, I have gotten many royalty statements in Excel that did NOT add up. The "total" column isn't a formula, if you know what I mean. I don't even want an Excel spreadsheet! I want XML transactions, row by row, with all the detail in full glory so that my system can interpret the results (don't get me wrong, your graphs are pretty...)

A decent buy-page. I am astonished at the poor quality of the end-user experience on mobile storefronts. Being in the business as long as I have disqualifies me as an objective test subject, but sometimes even I get confused. At what exact point in the purchase process have I committed myself to a purchase? Will the real buy button please light up!...Continued

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