2014 is coming to an end and, while we prepare to digest vast amounts of poultry (stuffed within even more poultry, if you’re posh), we are also looking ahead to 2015 to bring you they key trends you need to be aware of for the year ahead. But, before you pull your first cracker, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how much of what we predicted for 2014 at the end of 2013 actually came to pass.
Mobile is very much like one of those ‘sparrow-in-a-duck-in-a-chicken-in-a-goose-in-a-turkey’ Christmas show off delights. Mobile is the turkey, payments, beacons, customer service and omni-channel are the stuffing. But, as many will discover this year with their dinner, such a colossal bird takes quite a while to cook.
This time last year we were, as we had in 2012, been predicting the arrival of mobile payments in a big way. Well, we are still waiting. As we have been discussing for years, mobile payments hangs on consumer buy in and mass retailer adoption. And as 2014 comes to a close neither of these two things are in place. Still.
The arrival of Apple’s ApplePay back in the summer alongside bendy iPhones and iOS8 pricked people’s interest in m-payments, but the dust settled very quickly and it was business as usual within days.
So will we see m-payments in 2015? I really want to say yes, but I have been wrong now for three years running. However, consumer interest in m-payments is growing and the likes of Zapp are likely to launch in 2015 – and it has many mainstream retailers on board – so this could be the year.
One of the other major mobile predictions for 2014 was beacons. And by May we started to see some trials, not least across a range of shopping centres in South East England. But, aside from a raft of research reports and predictions we have seen little actual action in beacons.
Motorola kicked things off in the summer with a suite of products and a business ethos to bring retailers wifi and beacons combined to offer varying degrees of network access and marketing that can pinpoint the user from then entering a store right down to which products they were lingering in front of in the store.
A great idea, but still very much a trial run. So again, beacons are back on the list for 2015 as we didn’t see anything in 2014.
Mobile’s role in omni-channel and in-store retailing was also a key topic for 2014 and we saw some beginnings here with several major retailers attempting to make this complex amalgam work in the real world. Many mainstream retailers in fact now have pretty good basic omni-channel offerings, but try and start the shopping journey on one device, continue on another and finish in a store and you are still pretty much out of luck.
Many stores now have kiosks, screens and pads in store to help with finding things and ordering out of stock items, but its pretty much a cap doffing exercise and we really need to see a lot more here.
The in-store experience really needs to be shaken up and many shoppers this Christmas will start to see how awful going to shops actually is. Already the use of the web and mobile is eating into how people do they Christmas shopping. Combine this with the appalling experience in store and consumers will vote with their feet – or rather their fingers.
This is perhaps the biggest challenge around mobile that retailers faced in 2014 and will continue to battle with in 2015. Retail isn’t going to become online only or any of those predictions from the early 2000s, but there is a desperate need to incorporate mobile, the web and stores into making shopping a much better and more flexible experience. It demands a total rethink and perhaps that is really the key trend for 2015, rethinking retail away from being compartmentalised ways of shopping to a holistic way of using all channels to make it work better.
I really hope so. I want to be doing my Christmas shopping in 2015 in a much more civilised way than I have been doing so far today. Merry Christmas and see you in the (mobile) new year.