For a look back at mobile in 2012, I returned to the interviews I conducted late last year for my Mobilized Marketing book.
Some of the three dozen marketers I talked to were hesitant to predict too far into the future. But, with a bit of prodding from this inquiring author, I did gather predictions that sounded plausible then.
What about now?
Brand marketer Rick Mathieson predicted monumental change at retail.
“We’re going to see the beginnings of an evolution in what we call location-based services, and a convergence of several different trends that will radically redefine what we call mobile marketing and what we call retailing for the decade ahead,” he told me. “You’ll see the convergence of things like Foursquare and Shopkick and so on, with things like the Layar augmented reality browser, with things like NFC [near field communication] and/or QR [quick response] codes—or whatever they evolve into—and retailers having their own apps that manage CRM [customer relationship management] systems and offer discounts. All of these things are going to converge in an interesting way.
“Here’s how it will be manifest. You’re Jane and you’re walking into Hot Stuff Boutique. You’re going to turn on the Hot Stuff app, and the store is instantly going to know Jane just walked in the door. You’re going to instantly receive offers based on your stated preferences and your past purchase history. ‘Hi Jane! If you loved those jeans you bought last month, you’re going to love these new tops.’ It’ll even show you where the shirts are in the store. Should you decide to, you can send your information to the tablet device in the store clerk’s hands, so he or she can give you very personalized customer care when you’re in the store. When you walk over to the shirts, you’ll be able to scan the tag to watch video of models wearing the shirts on the runway, or a video about the brand and the inspirations for the design.”
There was more to Mathieson’s scenario:
“When you go into the dressing room, you’ll be able to capture video or images of yourself in the store mirror and instantly send it out to your social network for instant feedback on whether the style is ‘fly’ or ‘forgettaboutit,’” he says. “If desired, you’ll be able to grab accessories from the catalogue and superimpose them on your reflection using augmented reality and you in the store, and your friends out in the world, will be able to have a real-time shopping experience. Depending on what your friends say, or maybe despite what they say, if you decide you want that shirt, you might throw it in your bag or just wear it and walk right out of the store. New-fangled theft deterrent technology will be disabled, and the transaction will happen automatically and wirelessly, perhaps on the fly or with the tap of your phone on a NFC reader, because you’ve entered your credit card information into a Web portal associated with the app or because you have mobile wallet capabilities. And you’re on your way—without digging for cash, writing a check, swiping a card or ever again standing in line.
So how did Mathieson score on his predictions?
There certainly has been monumental change at retail.
PayPal saw a 193 percent increase in mobile payment volume on Black Friday 2012 than Black Friday 2011. Between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. PST was the busiest mobile shopping hour on Black Friday 2012. Shoppers in these cities made the most mobile purchases through PayPal on Black Friday: Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York.
eBay experienced a 153 boost in mobile U.S. volume. That followed eBay a 133 percent increase in mobile U.S. volume transacted on Thanksgiving.
IBM said that mobile purchases soared with 24 percent of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer's site, up from 14.3 percent in 2011. Mobile sales exceeded 16 percent, up from 9.8 percent in 2011.
Additionally, the iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone, reaching nearly 10 percent of online shopping. This was followed by iPhone at 8.7 percent and Android 5.5 percent. The iPad dominated tablet traffic at 88.3 percent followed by the Barnes and Noble Nook at 3.1 percent, Amazon Kindle at 2.4 percent and the Samsung Galaxy at 1.8 percent.
Finally, according to IBM, consumers shopped in store, online and on mobile devices simultaneously to get the best bargains. Overall 58 percent of consumers used smartphones compared to 41 percent who used tablets to surf for bargains on Black Friday. Black Friday – Cyber Monday stats
How are retailers competing?
A recent initiative by Lowe’s has the chain putting 42,000 iPhones into the hands of sales associates as a way to help customers get a more satisfying experience from the iPhone app. (To get the inside story on how mobile was used by Lowe’s during the holidays, I will be conducting a fireside chat with Sean Bartlett, Director of Mobile Strategy and Platforms for Lowe’s on Jan. 30 at the Mobile Marketing Association’s Mobile Marketing Forum in San Francisco http://www.mmaglobal.com/events/forums/sanfrancisco2013/agenda#tabs-2).
I have to believe that Mathieson’s dressing room sequence of events is still a time off from happening. There is plenty of social involving with the buying experience, but augmented reality has yet to realize its promise. I see more of it happening in 2013, but we’ll look back 12 months from now and still not see AR as a mass experience.
Another to make predictions was Michael Becker, Managing Director of MMA North America, who told me in Mobilized Marketing http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007VTYDS8/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d26_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=18K66G61ABBPM32SGS99&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938811&pf_rd_i=507846 that mobile users will seek out what he called “pause and resume.”
“Consumers will have an experience with a brand on one screen and expect that experience to move with them,” Becker said. “With that pause and resume, consumers are going to want the best experience that [they] can have at a particular device at that particular time.”
Becker also envisioned even more relevant experiences coming through mobile devices.
“I also see the importance of context growing more and more and beyond just location,” he said. “Time will be the next access that will take a big role in our conversation. It’s not just a matter that I’m in Times Square but when am I in it, because the engagement around you is different if I’m standing in Times Square at 12 in the afternoon versus 12 at night. How do we play that role and have that level of context with consumers?
“We’re going to see the idea of permission marketing go beyond I got your opt in or opt out. There are going to be layers of permission. When can you talk to me? On what subjects? And on what devices and mediums?”
So how did Becker do?
Pause and resume is certainly here. Amazon’s Kindle is an example with the device and app syncing as users switch from a Kindle to a smartphone or tablet. The experience is seamless and now the standard.
As for context, more and more brands are using such elements as ambient conditions to be relevant. For instance, 7-Eleven delivered Slurpee offers to opted in consumers when the temperatures reached warm degrees.
I haven’t seen a brand use layers of permission yet, but the idea makes sense. I want to interact with the local grocer, but I don’t want offers for beef since we don’t eat meat. But if you have a deal on halibut, I’m all in as long as you reach me on my smartphone during the hours when I’m most likely on my way home.