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Dual screening: the new battle ground for etail?

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Dual screening during popular TV shows such as Peaky Blinders and Great British Bake Off – leading to rise in sales of cooking stuff and flat caps – as revealed by eBay this week shows how powerful mobile has become in linking retail and other activities.

But what it really shows is that mobile totally disrupts the sales process in new ways and that is what your mobile retailing strategy should be focussing on.

With people watching popular TV shows and wanting to get in on the action is an excellent sales lead for many retailers and the fact that people tend to reach for their phone or tablet to act on that impulse cements where mobile is in the consumers’ minds.

But the impact this has on retailers goes way deeper than just having a mobile website. Conversions on mobile are growing – dramatically according to IMRG Capgemini this week – but the fact that sales are taking place on the device increasingly isn’t the key issue here. What is key is context and being ready for that.

If, as eBay shows, specific shows on TV are leading to spikes in sales of certain items, retailers now need to not only have their tech and logistics departments geared up for marketing campaigns and email shots (Take note Gap, don’t send out an email marketing shot when your site is down), but they also have to be ready for what might happen sales-wise based around what is on peak time TV.

Now should you all be sitting there pouring over the Radio Times every day? No probably not, but you will have to start looking at how context such as what is trending on TV – the Olympics, Bake Off and other top-box-office TV – and work out if it has an impact on you.

Conversely, you can also use this trend to look at how you can turn these things to your advantage. You sell flatcaps and Peaky Blinders is peaking on Sunday, then look at how to adjust your SEO so that you start to win the top spots on Google et al for your Peaky Blinder hats.

Many retailers already do this to some extent, but as second screening grows in popularity and increasingly becomes the norm around watching the TV, retailers are going to have to get smarter at how they tap into it as a channel.

Scheduled TV is still strong and that makes it much easier for retailers to predict what might impact them or what they can hang their marketing and SEO around. However, like it or not, scheduled TV watching is dying. More and more people are watching catch-up TV and Netflix and you have to work out how to contextualise what you do around this.

Many smart brands already just ‘own’ the SEO around products that chime with the top watched shows on these emerging ‘channels’, but more needs to be done.

Audio recognition technologies like Shazam have made small inroads into this, but technology around mobile needs to be developed further – and quickly – to tap into this growing trend. More people will be watching Netflix this year than last. More again next year. And all of them will also be clutching a smartphone or tablet while they do it. It’s like TV advertising in steroids – if you can get into it. How are you going to tap into this growing trend? That is the question you should be asking your mobile, IT, marketing and ecomm teams.

Mobile retailing just got a whole lot more complicated.

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