The mobile platform seems to have reached a critical mass this season with consumers.  Mobile platform purchasing really made an impact on holiday sales this year.  This has shown provided the consumers an opportunity to use the technology to help in their purchasing.  I see the platform as a means to improve the consumer shopping and then make the best purchase decision.  This year the spread of smartphones in addition to the improved wireless network capabilities have allowed consumers to blend both the in-store and online purchasing practices.  This is where the technology has started to live up to it’s potential to truly provide consumers with the ability to shop and make the best purchase decision from any location.

 

We have seen an increase in online sales this year that most of the reports relate directly to the improvements in mobile technology and wireless networks.  This makes a great deal of sense to me because I can relate it directly to my own shopping experience and practices.  I joined and downloaded a few apps to my smartphone that push sales and coupon information to me directly and when I am in a store or mall these apps push deals related specifically to the mall or store location.  I can even expand the search for deals by a number of miles to expand my comparison.  When I shop now I will take a few minutes before purchasing to identify any specials.  This has saved me a great deal in my purchases by providing discounts specific to the store where I am making the purchase and also providing immediate information discounts that may be related in stores near me.  I am just one shopper you might say, however, these apps are readily available to any shopper and both direct word of mouth and the recommendations on the Play Store make it easy to search for these types of apps to find the apps that work best for the individual.  It is foolish not to think that each consumer with a smartphone is doing the same thing. 

 

In previous years I suggested that stores should provide easy access to their wifi network for consumers.  The improvements to wireless network service is reducing the importance of this suggestion though the outcome remains the same.  Consumers are shopping on their smartphones while physically in the retail store.  Retailers have fought against this practice in the past to no avail and now it is time to realize that the key is the purchase and not the shopping method.  This means that retailers must support all channels for purchase and must even open their networks for consumers to easily shop via their phone.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?