There’s no denying that smart mobile devices have changed our world. More than half of the Australian population has internet access. Recent data from research company Nielsen found that half of Australians with internet access are accessing it from a mobile device.
Of the mobile phone market, 63 per cent of mobile phones are now internet-enabled. It is expected that within the next few years this will reach saturation point; that is, 100 per cent of all mobile phones will be connected to the internet.
So with more and more customers embracing mobile technology, what does that mean for businesses?
The lines between real world and online commerce are blurring. A customer can stand in a store and use their mobile device to research and price compare.
Smart mobile devices are set to become a mobile, virtual wallet. It is already possible to be in store, scan the barcode of an item with your phone and use a mobile payment system to make the purchase.
You may have heard of multi-channel retailing. This means providing various channels for your customers to interact, in store, through a website or say, via social media.
Omni-channel retailing goes one step further by designing a seamless interaction for your customers across all channels. This means the entire customer experience is the same across any channel from mobile devices, in store, website, social media, television, catalogues or whatever sales channels are relevant to your business.
What does this mean?
Customers are changing their expectations. Most customers are already using multiple channels before making the decision to purchase, whether it’s a car, a pair of shoes or which management consultancy to engage. Customers will research online, and they may speak to your staff in store or via a call centre before making the decision that your company is the one they wish to engage.
Ensuring that your business is accessible and engaging with customers via the channels they are already using is the first step.
Being ready to embrace an omni-channel approach where the experience of your customers is the same regardless of which channel they choose is the longer term challenge for all businesses.
A good place to start understanding your customer expectations is to see how many mobile devices are accessing your current website.
Some say that mobile commerce is the same as online commerce, only on a smaller screen, but that’s not strictly true. Mobile commerce allows the customer to be anywhere they want to be when they are making the purchase. They may be in your competitor’s store.
The key to embracing mobile for your business is to first understand your customers’ mobile usage, then ensure that you are meeting their needs now and are ready for when their expectations increase.