According to eMarketer, almost 60% of mobile phone users today have smartphones. In three years, that number jumps to 75%. Not sure about you, but everywhere I go, people are looking (not talking…looking) at their phones. In restaurants, in waiting rooms, in their cars, in movie theaters, and most annoyingly, while walking across parking lots. And a lot of this looking seems to be at shopping sites. Forrester forecasts growth of 129% for m-commerce in 2012, compared to 12% in e-commerce and 6% in overall retail sales. Of course, m-commerce is still a tiny fraction–$8 billion–of the $3.1 trillion in retail sales, though it’s expected to grow by more than 3x by 2016. How does a retailer ensure they take a large piece of this growing m-commerce pie?
Short of everyone getting a Galaxy Note, with its XL screen, businesses that want to be at the forefront of the m-commerce revolution will have to make the shopping experience on the small screen pleasant and easy. There are, of course, design aspects that are critical: buttons that are large enough to avoid fat-fingering; minimizing the need to type information, 1-2-3 (or fewer) steps to checkout, and so on.
But how about serving up the most relevant content for each smartphone user, such that the item they are most likely to want is what they see first on that small screen? Wouldn’t that make the user experience pleasant and easy? Well, this type of 1:1 customer messaging is possible, even on mobile! Hyper-personalization allows companies to offer the most relevant content to each individual customer, so that when she is on your mobile site or mobile app, she sees the content that is most relevant to her at that moment.
How is this possible? It starts with being able to connect all the information available about each customer, be it from CRM data, SMS data, transactions (both m-commerce and e-commerce), and digital behavior (clicks on website, m-site, email, etc.), and even social data. Once all these customer dots are connected for each customer, you can predict the most relevant content for that customer and serve it on a mobile device, making it an easier, more pleasant experience for your customer.
Imagine a sporting goods retailer, we’ll call SGR, and two of its customers:
- • Joe: He has purchased soccer cleats and a golf bag from SGR. He is most likely to open an email when it promotes a sale. He likes FC Dallas on Facebook. And he has downloaded SGR’s shopping app.
- • Jane: She has purchased the most technologically advanced running shoes for the past 3 years from SGR and often browses its mobile site. She often reads about cross-country on SGR’s blog. On Facebook, she likes “Triathlons” and has recently joined an upcoming triathlon event.
Without hyper-personalization, SGR would have what most, if not all, retailers have on their mobile site or mobile app: some mobile-friendly version of their website. Joe and Jane would see exactly the same thing everyone else sees, perhaps a free shipping hero image or typical items to buy for a given season, like camping gear in the summer or ski equipment in the winter.
But what if, when Joe opens his SGR shopping app, the first screen he sees is FC Dallas jerseys at 30% off, and as he scrolls down, he sees soccer and golf gear? And when Jane visits SGR’s mobile site, the first thing she sees is the newest Pearl Izumi triathlon cycling shoes, and as she scrolls she sees trail running shoes? And now imagine that each of SGR’s customers is served this type of hyper-personalized content. Is it possible that they will purchase more from SGR? I certainly would!
This is the promise of hyper-personalization. And the technology exists today! When identifying the best hyper-personalization technology, the critical elements each retailer must look for in a partner are:
a) The ability to connect disparate data sets (transactions, CRM, behavior, mobile, social, etc.) to develop a holistic profile of each customer
b) The capability to take the integrated profiles and determine which content is most relevant for each customer
c) The capacity to distribute the hyper-personalized content consistently across every digital channel each customer interacts with, in this case mobile.
When retailers make it this easy to shop on mobile devices, m-commerce may grow even more than Forrester forecasts. And with the time they save m-shopping, perhaps smartphone users will look up more often, rather than staring at their phones. Especially when crossing a parking lot.
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