Since at least 1999, each year has produced confident predictions that next year would be the “Year of the Mobile”. So it’s a relief to finally be able to talk about the Year of the Mobile in the past tense. The general consensus, from Google on down, is that 2010 gets the award as year of the mobile.
Why? Well, in 2010, for the first time smart phones outsold PC’s worldwide, and with over 500M smart-phones shipped globally in the first three months of 2011, the rapid growth continues.
Yet for the majority of on-line retailers, mention “online strategy” and they think only of their web-site. A properly developed “Multi-Channel” online strategy needs to address the web, the mobile channel & the rapidly emerging social channels.
So does the Google data (and they have a lot of it) show that now is the right time to embrace multi-channel?
We’ll either be Asleep, or On-line
Google are of the opinion that the mobile internet is transformational. It enables mobile devices to develop beyond just a form of communication, to where they will take over entertainment, then commerce, until they are (this is Google’s phrase!) “life critical devices”.
Google see a future when we are in one of two states – asleep, or online. And right now they feel it is the potential for enabling commerce that is making mobile very interesting. Mobile commerce is the next “pillar” of a multi-channel online strategy that all merchants with an online presence need to address.
2010’s – the Decade of the Mobile
Having finally called the Year of the Mobile correctly, Google seem to have got a bit giddy and are pushing the 2010’s as the “Decade of the Mobile”.
When do they expect to see the mobile web over take the desktop web? Current predictions show that this could happen as early as the end of 2011. In fact, Google do not even refer to the “web” or “mobile web” any more, it’s all just “online”.
Similarly an online commerce strategy should not consider “web” and “mobile” differently, but pull them together into a multi-channel strategy which addresses all on-line channels.
An App is not a mobile strategy
Business need to keep up with consumer demand, which they are failing to do at the moment. Despite the massive increase in smart-phone adoption, less than 1% of Google ad spend is aimed at mobile devices.
Similarly, most businesses do not have a mobile or multi-channel commerce strategy. Such a strategy has to be developed to suit the business needs. An App is not a mobile strategy – but if an App allows the business to reach & serve their customers, then an App should be one element of an overall mobile strategy. And a mobile strategy should be but one part of a full multi-channel online commerce strategy.
Customers want a seamless experience when they interact with a brand, irrespective of whether that interaction is over the web, via a mobile device or through social channels. As a key part of a successful on-line strategy is to enable customers to check-out & pay in as “frictionless” a way as possible, a multi-channel payment strategy should be a key element of any online strategy.
It’s not too late to be early!
Remember, despite all the developments in the mobile space, actual mCommerce is still in its infancy.
By acting now, and developing a comprehensive Multi-Channel payment strategy for your business, it’s not too late to be early!
[I’ve written this blog post based on a presentation was given by Damian Lawlor, Managing Director Google Media Business Solutions, at the WorldNet “Shift Happens!” seminar on Multi-channel Services, held in the Guinness Storehouse on the 5th May 2011. The interpretations are mine, and do not represent the views of Google.]