In 2011, the number of smartphones sold exceeded the number of PCs sold for the first time and in the coming years the number of mobile device sales will dwarf the number of PC sales. Relatively speaking, we are still at the early stages of smartphone adoption; roughly 12 per cent of the world’s population use one, though the statistic is more like 46 per cent in the US. It’s still fair to say the smartphone demographic is adults aged 18-50, however before long this will diversify dramatically. By 2015 the number of Internet users globally will double, with most of this adoption being mobile. This shift to universal mobile usage is undeniable, happening at blistering speed and is having an increasingly tangible effect on the way commerce is conducted.
The statistics show that the world truly is at a tipping point, more so than at any other time in the last 50 years. However, although a high percentage of us are open-minded 18-50 year olds who remain adaptable, many others are not. There is still a significant requirement to cater for ‘silver surfers’ (over 50s internet users) and those that don’t consider the internet as an option for shopping at all. The demand on businesses not to isolate these audiences while at the same time effectively responding to the mass mobile migration can pull them in different directions.
Fortunately for them, the latter groups will naturally die out over time, and eventually it will be normal practice for people to do their grocery shopping online while on the commute home from work instead of at the supermarket.
The mobile revolution is creating the need for an evolved commerce strategy; however before you rush out to hire a ‘chief mobile officer’, consider this: surely a commerce approach should be fully focused on being seamlessly ‘omnichannel’. Where is the logic in creating distinct retail, web and mobile channels and confusing and alienating your customers in the process?
In the end it boils down to providing the most convenient customer experience, as well as ensuring the customer has that same fuzzy feeling of ‘being your customer’ regardless of the channel, whether they are wandering around Toys R Us on Christmas Eve or doing their weekly shop on a mobile phone. The good news is that e-commerce solutions such as e2x’s RoadRunner are built to support the ‘omni-channel’ customer experience. So, for businesses that have the ambition and vision, solutions like RoadRunner will get you there quickly.
Alongside such solutions, we believe there is an increasing case for hiring a ‘Chief Omnichannel Officer’, whose responsibility it is to provide a unified customer experience irrespective of the channel. Recent research by IMRG found that the mobile ‘conversion’ rate remains very low – just 1.4 per cent of visitors to mobile commerce sites in Q1 2012 paid for something, compared to 4.13 per cent of traditional online website visitors. Clearly, there is either hesitation (security fears, the sense that you’re not able to choose from the entire product range on mobile) or frustration (trying to enter a 3-D Secure bank pass code using a fiddly mobile keyboard, a vanishing basket if you lose 3G connection) – most likely a combination of the two. It is the Chief Omnichannel Officer’s job to address these issues.