While the earliest communications innovations had tens and even hundreds of years between them – from the invention of the telephone in 1897 to the first WAP-enabled handset – innovations in smartphones have only been gathering pace.
Addressing the room at the end of the Mobile Retail Summit 2013, Martin Gill, principle analyst for Forrester, said we wouldn’t have even been talking about this at a conference in 2007. “The pace of change is getting faster and faster. That’s not going to slow down. 39 per cent of UK adults now use the mobile internet on a daily basis. If your core customerbase is under-25, that figure reaches 60 per cent.”
“This is not limited to the UK. This is the way in which everyone across the world is using mobile – not just talking but communicating, searching and changing the way they interact with brands.”
But he said this new world, where over half of all searches are mobile and most of those are local, is increasingly difficult to keep up with and manage. In the past, he said, when a customer was in your store, you could be certain that they weren’t on your website, on the phone to your call centre, watching your TV ad or browsing a competitor’s site. “There are mobile specific behaviours that you can’t afford to ignore.”
90 per cent of purchases are still in store
But he highlighted that only 12 per cent of UK consumers have actually bought a product on their mobile phone – including downloads and other digital content. “Only 11 per cent of purchases made in the UK are online. That means 90 per cent are still in physical stores. What people are doing,” he said, “is using their mobile phones to interact with the physical environment.” The top activities are locating a store to check opening hours, researching a product and taking a picture. “People are not in a massive rush to buy on mobile – what they want is help with their physical purchase.
“Whatever you call it – a game changer, the glue or the link – mobile is bringing the best of the physical world and the best of the digital world together to influence consumers in different ways. Brands have the opportunity to touch every different aspect of the customer life cycle.
So what does Forrester predict for the future?
“The future of mobile is absolutely about context. Brands can create mobile unique experiences that only exist because of what the person is doing and the fact that the phone can interact with their environment.” He outlined that the controls, displays and opportunities for data collection will only get smarter, offering the potential for things like biometric security, image projection and chemical sensors for food.
But he said there are simple bits of context that can be better used today. Location, time and making use of user set preferences can all help create a personalised experience. “Are they in store, are they in a competitor’s store, are they about to get on a flight?” Walmart, for example, delivers an app customised for when a customer is in store with content relevant to where they are. Distance, depth, aisle, floor, direction and what time of day it is could all be put to use in the near future.
Next five years will be frightening
Although he said it might not be that useful, he highlighted that the Converse AR app actually works and does what it says – which is a start. “Whether they buy something I don’t know but it’s a vision of what’s to come – what does it look like when I wear it? How does it look or how does it feel?”
“If you were IKEA, you could already know the colour scheme or a room – what colours match? How big is the room? How much do I have in savings? When can I have it delivered? Which stores deliver to my house?
“What we do know is it’s coming at such a fast pace that the level of innovation that the next five years is going to bring will be frightening. And the mouse is dead. There are new ways of interacting with technology and we are not tied to the old user input. We can deliver new user experiences, mobile user experiences.
“If you remember anything, remember mobile is the glue – it brings the best of digital and the best of physical together.”
Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and first published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/mrs2013-next-five-years-innovation-will-be-frightening-says-forrester-analyst