Going Local – Putting Your Business in My Pocket – Amazon’s Future Local Direction?

August 16, 2013

in General Interest, Mobility, Smart Retail, Strategy Formulation

As a retailer – What’s your screen strategy? Increasingly mobile touch devices dominate and how we use them to shop is changing. The website data below also recognizes that we go across screens (laptop, PC, tablet, mobile) for many purchases.

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.

Who’s shopping on mobile devices? More than half the U.S. audience is men (52%) and 48% women, with most in the 18 to 44 age range. Nearly half (48%) have an Android smartphone, and 45% own an iPhone. Tablet owners tend to skew more affluent, with more than half with household incomes higher than $75,000, and 47% access retail content.

via MediaPost Publications Time Spent Shopping Shifts From PC To Mobile 08/09/2013.

Example, how many times have you started a purchase on your mobile or tablet and still found you have to complete it later, on your PC? Often these have disparate user experiences with differing levels of functionality, leaving us less than satisfied. Increasingly, what we want is our mobile phone to provide the simplest quickest solution. Yet, few online stores start from a mobile perspective (most have taken desktops and adapted to mobile which leads to less than optimal solutions). Further, while small stores remain challenged in building a competitive online platform, the personal relationships or locations that sustain them may also become their most important online assets.

IMG_5797While Amazon continues to lead the way and is superb at making it easy to order online, it is yet to make a complete mobile transition. I can see a day where an Amazon “store in store” will also provide real benefits to the small trader, who is currently there out of necessity for online sales. Tomorrow, Amazon may simplify and help optimize a trader’s local sales, relationships and transaction history. This step will take Amazon one step further to being both, the “register”, and a platform for becoming the relationship companion manager.  (I’d see Square competing in this space too.) Simply think about a new tab on your mobile that highlights local shopping.

The combination of screens and devices are serving to expand the sheer number of shopping occasions and change where  and when they take place. A few years ago online shopping was limited to a room in the home. Now it takes place anywhere. Similarly, shopping happens while we have discussions, example in a Starbucks, while taking a break from other shopping, at work, or simply while we are out and about, and have a good idea. Which often means looking up that product. Right now that makes life simple for Amazon and it is typically the first check for an online item or point of reference.

However, in a future world it might be local stores with geo-location notices in my pocket, a different type of search engine that goes both global and local at the same time. For Amazon to be effective in this world a “store in store” approach will be more appealing to both shoppers and the businesses trying to build the relationship.

Where are the challenges emerging today?

1. Immediately shop the local store or dealer – identify items in that store, or complete a transaction without even approaching a register. (Apple Stores are a good example of putting the register in the customers’ hands). How do you personalize my visit, how do you say “welcome back” here’s what we have for you today.

2. Effectively share the customer record and relationship building that should accompany each transaction. Data gathering for most retail organizations have been one-way. Example a rewards program in a supermarket. This may allow better offers for next time (if one remembers) or to capture sales data and thus some form of customer status ranking. It doesn’t help with product feedback or reviews, registering who just arrived in my store, or real-time offers.

3. Take the online experience in-store. The real breakthrough will come when small stores can be more attentive, more flexible and more accommodating to a relationship. That relationship must parse both online and offline and potentially can be connected right back to my network. This is not a Facebook page in my view. My metaphor for explaining it – is the cash register in my pocket. The way that can work will also change depending on my geo-location. We see some of this already with local pickup systems although I see this going much further.




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