30 August 2013

Are You Ready For Mobile Commerce?

Mobile Commerce Sales Top $10 Billion in First Half of 2013 (comScore 2013). 

Commerce transactions in the US on smartphones and tablets totaled $10.6 billion in the first half of this year, according to a comScore estimate. That’s a huge number, considering that only a couple years ago, mobile commerce sales was just topping $1 billion for the corresponding time span. That number will continue to grow exponentially, as we live in an age where more and more consumers are walking around with smartphones or tablets. Mobile device companies are releasing a dizzying array of phones and tablets, coming in all kinds of sizes and price points. Shopping, comparisons, reviews and product research on a mobile device is becoming the norm.

Just the other day I was in the market for home theater amplifier at my local brick-and-mortar electronics store. I was trying to upgrade my system to support the newer technologies of Bluetooth, Airplay, and HDMI inputs to support all my gadgets. I began to question which models were better than others. While walking in the store, I ended up surfing on my phone. I pulled up several comparisons, reviews, and began shopping for similar devices. Eventually I found a site that had a good amount of customer product reviews, a plethora of product information, and detailed images of the amplifier and all its ports. Needless to say, I found a better product and price on my mobile phone and left the electronics store empty-handed. In this day and age, it’s just too easy to shop on your mobile device - regardless of where you are at.

According to comScore this is a trend that has been picking up steam. "While mobile devices are already extremely influential in the overall buying process, they are also beginning to drive a meaningful percentage of digital commerce," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "One out of every ten consumer e-commerce dollars is now spent using either a smartphone or a tablet, and growth in this segment of the market is outpacing that of traditional e-commerce by a factor of 2x, which itself is growing at rates in the mid-teens. Any channel shift has the potential to be disruptive to established revenue streams, and it would appear that m-commerce spending has reached enough of a critical mass that key stakeholders must begin to address this new market dynamic today or risk losing competitive advantage."

But it’s difficult enough for retail companies to manage product information across multiple channels, websites, languages etc. In addition, these companies must communicate with their customers more and more via all the retail channels, printed materials, emails, etc. Consumers are demanding more detailed information, better diagrams, pictures or videos. Quite often, the window retailers have to get that product information all sorted out is small, as they may be responding to trends in the market or dealing with short product lifecycles. Now, factor into that the quick and easy access to data that consumers have at their fingertips via these mobile devices. Retailers need to think about mobile as a seamless part of a broader shopping experience, whether they are trying to position their products differently on the mobile or trying to provide that omni-channel experience. Without a mobile strategy, they risk falling behind.

An important ingredient to achieving an omni-channel shopping experience is to have your product information centrally organized, and easily manageable. The store’s marketers or companies brand owners need to be empowered to be able to slice, dice, categorize, assort, and mix and match products with speed and ease. The tool should be simple and intuitive. By implementing inRiver as a centralized product information management system these objectives can be met. inRiver’s Product Channel Manager could help maintain that seamless product information consistency across all channels including mobile. Coupled with a tight integration with ecommerce platforms, retailers would be able to get the right product information to the right channels at the right time.


19 August 2013

Three rules you cannot ignore when working with information logistics

Any organization trying to convey a digital offering to the market knows that the challenge is not the context (Channels, eCommerce stores, mCommerce, catalogs) of where I want this to be featured. It is relatively easy to decide on colors, strategies for achieving a great customer experience and augment wallet share, because these are all very visible challenges. But to get product information with consistent quality out to all channels over time is very hard, and is the foundation for giving your customer a great experience. This is basic information logistics, and the information you want to get out to your channels must be rich in content to create a great product offering.

There are three basic rules when working with information logistics and moving product information across channels in an efficient way.
  1. Keep information as clean as possible – for easy channel integration 
  2. Information needs context to be understandable – Create an attractive product offering for a specific channel 
  3. Context disrupts flexibility of information – To much channel-specific information will make it harder to share cross-channel 
These are contradictory rules, which is why it usually is very hard to have quality information across channels over time. The challenge is to know where to draw the line; you must know what information is needed to generate a great product offering, but you must also know where the line for flexibility and adaptability for all channels goes for your Cross-Channel Strategy. This is why building great marketing models in inRiver is easy and flexible and a very important task when enabling a Cross-Channel Strategy in an organization.

This is also the reason why inRiver has certified partners, trained to build great marketing models.

-- Jimmy Ekbäck, CTO --