The last 7 years have been ground-breaking from a technology standpoint as we’ve seen the rise of mobile technology to unprecedented levels. The mobile revolution has also spawned a whole new epic means of consumer shopping and buying habits. In recent years, M-commerce, or the process of using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets to make online purchases, has increasingly become the norm for consumer engagement. In the same way that E-commerce fueled the growth of the internet in the mid-90s and early 2000s, M-commerce is spawning a new revolution in how consumers shop for good, products, and services. If mobile devices are the new PCs of the digital era, then apps are the software behind this engine of growth. There’s now an app for everything and smart and savvy businesses today need to engage with mobile-centric consumers to make it easy for them to find and interact with their products and services.
If the numbers tell us anything, M-commerce will continue to grow exponentially. In 2013 an estimated 15% of all online retail sales were done via mobile and by 2017, the percentage will rise to 25%. According to a new report from Goldman Sachs, global mobile commerce sales will reach $626 billion by 2018, which is just shy of equaling total global e-commerce sales for 2013 of $638 billion. The firm estimates that global M-commerce sales reached $133 billion in 2013, and that this number will reach $626 billion in 2018. Given this tremendous growth in mobile sales channels, how can small businesses capitalize on these latest trends and appeal to this new breed of mobile savvy customer? What steps have to happen at the business, marketing, and strategy level? The first part involves a total re-evaluation of how customers today are engaging with goods and services. This involves an overview of what has come to be known as Omni-channel marketing. The basic idea of Omni-channel marketing is that it offers a seamless approach to engaging the consumer through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, bricks-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog, and so on.
Mobility, of course, is right in the middle of this Omni-channel retail revolution. Customers are accessing products and services through smartphones, tablets, traditional desktops, thin laptops, and even through Apple TV. Next it will be Google Glass and smartwatches. No matter how a customer accesses your services – whether checking inventory on your mobile friendly website, downloading a coupon from your mobile app, or visiting your store and sharing that experience on Twitter – business owners absolutely need to ensure their products and services are available in a seamless, organic manner 24/7 across multiple platforms and devices. So before businesses dive into the deep end of the pool and get in over their head in jargon and marketing buzz, it’s important to separate some of the terminology. M-commerce, E-commerce, Omni-channel aside . . . everything boils down to ease and convenience of access to goods and services. Brick-and-mortar businesses and online shops need to develop clear-headed strategies for mobilizing their businesses in ways that make their products and services as convenient as possible for consumers to find.
In the next two parts of this series we’ll explore strategies that will help to ensure that your business is mobile friendly as well as Omni-channel in purpose and scope. The central proposition here is this: How are you engaging with the M-commerce crowd and are you making it as easy as possible for customers to find your brand? Think here of Staples’ famous “That was easy” motto – customers should come away with the feeling that doing business with you is simple, fun, and intuitive. In other words, if you make the customer experience “push-button easy” they’re return again and again and refer others to your brand and services as well. Please join us back here soon as we continue this vital discussion.