The Shape-Shifting Reality Of Shopping

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Welcome to the one screen world of shopping.

One of the five major movements that have changed brands forever (that corporations are doing little-to-nothing about) that are defined in my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete, is the notion of the one screen world. In simplistic form: the only screen that matters to me – the consumer – is the screen that is in front of me. We live in a world where brands are still thinking in digital ghettos. They’re worried about their Web strategy, their mobile strategy, their social media strategy and so on. That’s a bad strategy. The only strategy that matters is a one screen strategy. We live in a world where screens are ubiquitous, cheap and hyper-connected. Plus, the data just keeps pointing us further down the road. PC sales have dropped at a dramatic pace as more and more consumers buy tablets and smartphones. Some have called this the post-PC era, while others have tagged it as the post-Web browser era. I like to think of it as the one screen world. Screens are everywhere (walls, pockets, hands, whatever) that are at our beck and connected call.

It’s happening… and it’s happening fast. 

It wasn’t even two years ago that I would poll audiences all over the world about how long it would take for us to do everything that we can do on our personal computers as effectively (if not better than) as we can do on our mobile devices. By looking at channels like Twitter and Instagram, one could argue that the mobile experience is actually superior to that of the Web-based one. That being said, there were always two areas of contention:

  1. Content creation. Whether it’s writing a document, editing a spreadsheet or building a presentation.
  2. Commerce. Looking through merchandise and actually buying right from the mobile device.

There is no doubt that Amazon and others have made it increasingly better to transact and purchase from a mobile device in the past short while. Mobile banking also helped pushed this forward as consumers gained confidence in the mobile transactions. Last Friday, MediaPost published the news item, Time Spent Shopping Shifts From PC To Mobile, that stated: "Time spent visiting retail Web sites on tablets and smartphones has eclipsed that of time spent shopping via the desktop. A combined 51% of time on retail sites took place on devices as of February (37% on smartphones, 14% on tablets) compared to 49% on PCs, according to a new study by mobile ad network Millennial Media and comScore. The desktop share is down from 84% in 2010. But comScore indicates that while time spent is shifting toward mobile, it’s helping extend the desktop audience by 45% as consumers that start on PCs continue their shopping experience across devices. So there’s a fair amount of overlap among platforms."

…And so it begins.

The one screen world is also the convergence of a more important movement: digital becoming physical and physical becoming digital. Companies like Nomi bring the power of web analytics to understanding the movement of physical people that are at the retail level. Companies like Square use digital technology to remove the need for cash registers. Retail has never been so digital and the pervasiveness of both e-commerce and the ability to transact on a mobile device turn shopping into something that transcends typical store hours and the physical limitations of inventory.

This always on consumer.

In short, the vast majority of brands are still, sadly, tinkering away at very traditional e-commerce websites that are cumbersome and already out of date. They’re racing to keep pace with brands like Amazon and Fab who have not only figured out the digital commerce model, but are equally engaged in their consumers wherever they may be. These same retail brands have a loosely focused social media strategy that is rarely connected to their digital commerce and – more often than not – the digital commerce division is rarely connected to the physical stores. The numbers don’t lie. As these brands fumble over org chats and attribution, the consumer has decided. So, what is a brand to do? These retailers are still busy trying to get ownership of their mobile environments out of IT, while consumers are happily transacting anywhere they please… with brands who understand just how quickly the entire landscape has shifted.

Here’s a clue: who owns the mobile experience and how closely linked to the business and marketing channel is it for the companies you deal with? The answers might surprise/depress you.  

One comment

  1. so…. what’s next for physical becoming digital? and how will we find transitions to make better sense of it all? assuming generation gaps will multiply and increase at exponential speed, who/what will take the lead in monitoring, understanding and responding to the needs so that we don’t just…. become

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