Ker-chingle bells, ker-chingle bells, ker-chingle all the way….
Well if 2013 wasn't the year of mobile, then the past few weeks have certainly been the season of mobile commerce. After all the breathless hype around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Gentle Tuesday (for all those really old Primal Scream fans), Wobbly Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday and TFI Fridays, the figures point squarely at retailers having to get on the mobile bandwagon, with massive growth in pre-Christmas online sales coming through mobile OSs – defying expectations based on last year and really showing that shoppers are picking up smartphones and tablets to do their shopping.
But, while it is interesting to see what happened, what do retailers have to learn from this and apply to the year ahead?See what IBM's commerce strategist James Lovell thinks in our exclusive video interview here
Well, you have to take mobile seriously of course, but you knew that already. More, though, mobile is becoming just how people do e-commerce. The device is in many ways immaterial once you have designed for its limitations (screen sizes, batter life, expensive data connection et al): it is just the way people are increasingly choosing to shop online.
Instead, it really is time to concentrate on what m-commerce actually means these days: the use of mobiles to enhance the real world shopping experience. And this is something that you need to do for life, not just for Christmas. As my esteemed colleague Chloe Rigby pointed out earlier this week in our sister title the Internet Retailing newsletter, Tesco is using the Christmas rush to experiment with augmented reality in its convenience stores. This is part of an on going trend that is seeing many big name retailers dabbling in using the mobile in the store – often for novelty, seasonal experiments.
If you really want to learn something from what happened over Cyber Monday and the run up to Christmas its is that the time to dabble is over. It is time to get serious over connecting the shop, the shopper and their smartphone. This is of course one way to ‘save the high street’, but more it is a way to give the shopper what they want. They want to shop online (on their mobile) but they do also want to go to shops and touch and try on the goods before buying. And understanding this is the key to retail success in 2014.
Mobile marketing will play a huge role in this process; it will drive people to malls and in to stores. It will also help shift inventory and generally oil the wheels of commerce. But what 2014 is really going to see – and what will really cement this process of mobilisation of stores – will be payments. We are poised to see some implementations of proper widespread m-payments in 2014 and by this time next year it will be a growing mass market product.
Of course this will only work if one technology becomes the mass market m-payment method of choice, but would put my shirt on the fact that that is about to happen. I won’t mention any names, but it will burst forth later next year and will grab a huge slice of the market. It already has bank buy in, merchant buy in and a huge marketing budget. What could possibly go wrong?
So, if 2013 was the year of mobile, what are we going to dub 2014? Well, clearly it is the year of mobile payments. And with that little rub of my crystal ball, I shall leave you to enjoy your mince pies, port and horrid reindeer jumpers as this is the last M-Retailing newsletter of 2013. So, have yourselves a Merry little Christmas, a #HappyNewYear and Kerching-le bells to you all…