There Is No Such Thing As Mobile Or Electronic Commerce Anymore
By Anthony Belpaire, Apr 20, 2012
Note: This blog post was originally published on Mobile Payments Today.
You may have read it: Best Buy’s Q4 results were below the expectations and the chain is closing 50 big box retail stores. Margins are eroding as the retailer is being squeezed by both online retailers such as Amazon and discount stores like Walmart.
But definitely one of the most interesting side comments was that consumers increasingly use Best Buy stores as showrooms where they can simply view and test the merchandise before purchasing online, often from a lower-priced retailer such as Amazon. What a nightmare: investing in expensive real estate to help your competitors sell better.
With my sympathy for Best Buy’s situation — I am still a fervent shopper when I am travelling in the U.S. — but I look at this evolution as perfect proof that the consumer is completely breaking the boundaries of on- and off-line trade, and that retailers have not yet learned how to take full advantage of it.
Where we as professionals in commerce-land are still classifying the industry in 'eCommerce,' 'mCommerce,' or bizarre terms such as 'card present payments' and 'card not present payments,' the consumer behavior is already far ahead. The stove pipes of e-, m- and off-line retail do not exist anymore and retailers who do not adapt to this new reality will struggle to acquire, or maintain customer relationships.
According to a survey from Google/Ipsos in April 2011, 79 percent of smartphone users in the U.S. leveraged their device for help with shopping, of which 70 percent used it instore. U.S. consumers were using their smartphones for things like searching shop locations, browsing product reviews, consulting price comparisons, and seeking discount coupons.
So the real winner is the one who best leverages the anytime, everywhere connected smartphone to guide the consumer across their decision making process occurring at different times and locations:
- mobile search advertising to capture consumers with clear buying interest
- shop locators
- contextual promotions leveraging geo-marketing to drive consumers to the store
- in-store alerts for suggestive cross-selling of products
- post shopping loyalty programs
And this all without being too disruptive and intrusive, as consumers want to stay in control, and only want to have highly relevant notifications or alerts.
So I'm curious how Stephen Gillett, who recently joined Best Buy to lead their mobile strategy (and the former CIO of Starbucks) will drive the mobile consumer to the stores for real purchases.