Mobile Shoppers, Not Who You Think They Are
November 16, 2011
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The Mall In Your Pocket
It’s time to make the list and check it twice, then settle into the couch? This holiday will see a larger percentage of shoppers both in-store and online toting smartphones and tablets and the wave is only beginning to crest. It’s a good thing retailers are there to meet them… oh wait… they’re not. Last post I talked a bit about how mobile disrupts “place,” and I want to go a bit more into detail about just what’s happening, or not, among retailers to respond to that change.
There’s a serious change afoot in tablet owner demographics, these smart devices are no longer the domain of the wealthy, techno-elite. The data is in regarding demand for Amazon’s Kindle Fire Android tablet, production changes show it as seriously strong. Add to that bookseller (remember those?) Barnes and Noble’s upgrade of its Nook device and suddenly there are two, small form-factor, low-cost Android tablets opening up the realm of tablets to a much larger swath of buyers. These devices are coming to market as we cross the 50% mark of US mobile phone owners with smartphones. The story here isn’t about adoption of technology, it’s about what it disrupts. The answer? Two things, information access and shopping, two tightly linked activities.
Are retailers ready? The truth is that most aren’t. Why? Many retailers are in the midst of “take two” designing a mobile experience that have a central goal of helping users, not driving downloads of the app. In research for my upcoming report, I found retail strategists fall into two camps:
- Ready, willing and able: These firms had a well-planned, holistic view of how mobile should work. Marketing, supply chain, eCommerce and (where applicable) loyalty were all involved.Many platforms were being addressed in tandem,coordinated development efforts and metrics centered on impact to the business whether serving customers for efficiently, driving purchases or time interacting with the brand.
- Backpedaling, fixing and regrouping: These organizations had jumped into mobile with some of the best intentions, however, I found myself speaking to the second or third iteration of a team-lead who was working to attain “ready, willing and able” while leveraging some existing assets and investment, many of which were simply not up to the task.
So the shoppers are coming and retailers are scrambling to adapt, let’s hope that this round of applications answers the call for the deeper functionality users want and that will help them shop, not drive them away (as some informati0n-centric apps have a tendency to do, more on that in my next post.)
My upcoming report will take a deeper dive into the issues above chronicling some top performers as well as some laggards in my upcoming report, look for it here on December 19th. I’m still in the writing and data gathering phases of my report, but will be publishing soon. I’d really like to track the volume of application updates on a timeline, by category. Anyone have any leads?