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How will we use our televisions to buy retail products in the future?

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A partnership between Capablue and PayPal, But while TV transactions, delivered over ecommerce apps, may be feasible in just a year’s time, it could be longer before customers start to use this in earnest, said Cape. Just as the dotcom boom saw services launched that shoppers did not yet want to use, so payment over the television may take a while to filter through to shoppers’ consciousness. “We can develop things as technologists and agencies very, very quickly,” he said, “but people take things up much slower.”

Capablue points to statistics that say connected TVs are now installed in two out of every five households that have a TV. Those who watch such TVs are more likely to be younger, male and have children, as well as higher median household incomes. By the end of 2011, according to Futuresource figures, there will be 5.6m connected TVs in the UK and 28m by 2014 – representing 100% of the TV-viewing households in the UK.

Tom Cape points out that often such technology is taken up by chance, rather than intention, simply because modern televisions tend to incorporate it. Six out of eight televisions in market leader Samsung’s current range are internet connected. Meanwhile, the BBC predict that within two years, 50% of iPlayer views will soon be over television sets rather than computers.

Thus, it seems that many people will soon have the capability of using such connected televisions to pay for retail goods – even if they are not yet doing that themselves. From there, said Cape, services such as payment will be pushed, rather than demanded. “You’ll be watching an ad and it’ll say click this button to buy, and you’ll say that’s easy but wouldn’t have thought to buy it without the service being there. I feel it will be one of those new market evolutions that’s as much as putting in front of customers as customers demanding it.

“Over time that will change and customers will start to expect it. Just as now there’s nothing more frustrating than finding a company doesn’t have a website where you can transact with the company – you expect it now of a retailer and you’re disappointed now and a little disgruntled if you find a brand and they don’t have an ecommerce shop. You can see the same here – in the future people can expect that of retailers and find it a little strange they don’t allow you to fulfil an order off the back of an advert.”

But already, said Cape, people should be thinking in terms of adding TV to their multichannel retailing strategies. “They should be starting to think of TV as a retail channel,” he said. “They should be, in the way that 10 years ago people were starting to think, Crikey, we should add websites to our multichannel strategy. 10 years ago, thinking need to add the web, five years ago mobile, now tvs, iPads, and any device that’s connected to the internet, an access point for people to sell products. It should be part of that strategy for retailers.”

That’s also true, he said, because with the advent of connected TV it’s now easier to have a TV channel than it ever was before. Where buying a channel on the Sky platform would have cost potentially millions, now it’s simply a case of showing an internet website through a television.

There’s also now a whole spectrum of different ways that retailers can use television. They currently range from TV advertising and product placement to having a branded TV channel through an internet-connected television. For Capablue, which specialises in web and TV convergence, that’s very exciting. “We used to put TV on the web,” said Cape. “We worked with broadcasters building the iPlayer and 4OD. Now we’re putting the web on TV, working with ecommerce solutions and putting it onto television.

“For us it’s a combination of all of those things: a video service potentially using videos to support sales, through to TV, transacting by going to a website or an app on your iPad or PC to buy. The whole journey goes across the internet. Regardless of which device, it’s still the internet. As a customer of a company you could have an account, have a TV viewer for that account, go onto mobile, check your account on your phone, go back to the office and check where order is.

“They’re all just internet devices, looking via the web at your account or transaction. Customers should be able to transact anywhere where they’re internet connected. Whether it’s phone, PC, iPad, and now television, it should be part of that range of devices that companies use to communicate with their customers.”

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