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No sleep til Christmas (2017)

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I wonder how much Christmas shopping will be done this year on mobile? I suspect I won’t have to wait too long to find out – not because Santa will leave me a note next to the empty brandy glass by my fireplace on the 25 December, but because the deluge of predictions from analysts will start to arrive any day now. I can hardly sleep for excitement.

But while I await what for me at least is an early Yuletide treat (sad, I know) our chums at Verdict research have been busy looking at how much shopping will be done on mobile by 2017 (how many sleeps is it til then?*) and have concluded that as much as 25% of online retailing will be carried out on mobile.

Really? Is that all?

Now I don’t doubt the efficacy of the study, but it seems to me a bit low, namely because, if things carry on as they are, by 2017, most forms of computing (the e in e-commerce) will be on some sort of portable device. Now you could argue that even if your desktop is connected to the web via wifi it could count as mobile, but ignoring this clearly insane leap of logic, I believe that the devices that the majority of people will access the web through will be mobile – not just portable, but mobile in the sense that they will use iOS, Android or Windows8 on a touch screen, portable device.

In the US 51% of mobile phones are now smartphones. The rest of the developed world is rapidly approaching this tipping point too. Meanwhile, sales of PCs are dropping, even laptops, and the advent of a growing range of affordable portable devices that we see today is likely to make the mobile device the key access point for the web for most people.

But is this then e or m-commerce? I think its m, but clearly I am not going to say e because I’d do myself out of a job. Likewise, anyone involved in e-commerce is going to claim that its all just e and m is just a part of that.

But this is just an issue of semantics. Or is it? I think that, fundamentally, mobile operates in a different way. For starters the OSs involved are different, the devices different – better in my opinion: an iPad or a Surface are much more joyful to use that a PC or desktop Mac. In fact, while iPads et al are a bit clunky right now at creating some forms of content, the interface and the way they work is soooo much better than desktop software allows that they can’t not win out.

I think, too, that the mindset of the user of a mobile device is different too. Very different, quite simply because you can just scoop up the device and browse, research and buy whatever you want.

It also doesn’t take into account of the social and local aspects of mobile – so called SoLoMo – which will form the backbone of the mobile strand at next year’s Internet Retailing Expo at the NEC (see the end of this intro and here). These areas will be mobile driven and I think will account for far more than 25% of online retail sales by 2017.

Verdict believes that the vast majority of users will do the browsing and research part of this, and that they will not rely on mobile to do the purchasing. I disagree. I think that by 2017 there will be so many accepted ways of paying using mobile – from iTunes, to payforit to bank-based offerings akin to Pingit – that mobile will be precisely the tool that people use for paying.

Verdicts view is analogous to the 1980s when I got my dad to reserve a plane ticket for me on his credit card and I then went to the travel agents and paid with cash. Now you would think that is mad since cards are the way to pay. This I think will also come into play with mobile.

So in my view I think that Verdict is being conservative about its m-commerce predictions. I think that, depending on how you define m-commerce, it will account for 50 to 80% of online retailing by 2017. I also think that mobile will be the payment tool of choice for a vast number of people. I know that is how I will be living my life in 2017 and I can’t wait… so how many sleeps is it til then?

*1825 give or take

STOP PRESS SoLoMo Retailing: the key to IRX 2013 at the NEC

The next mega Internet Retailing Expo is set to take place at the Birmingham NEC on 20 and 21 March and we will be focusing an entire track on the burgeoning world of Social-local-mobile retail. SoLoMo.

For those of you who think that SoLoMo was the saucy lady who danced in the nip in return for John the Baptist’s head on a plate, let me explain.

SoLoMo is the concatenation of the worlds of social, locational and mobile retailing that are propelling mobile into the heart of the digital commerce experience. The SoLoMo track will dance around the ideas of who mobile social, mobile location and mobile in general – and that includes tablets my friends – are all coming together to deliver an enhanced and more engaging experience.

It will look at not just straightforward social and mobile retail, but also the role SoLoMo plays in marketing, loyalty, showrooming, and sales. We may also look at how it can be used by your stores to enhance the shopping experience and make life easier for floor walkers. More details next time!

But we need your help and input, so I am formally calling for papers… send your ideas to

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