IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 21 Mar 2011

ME Commerce and You

Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, download apps, optimised websites, iPads, Tablet PCs, Android, Apple, Blackberry, Windows mobile, Smart phones and the good old fashioned PC…or should that be a MAC…how many channels to market are available to retailers these days either to enable a customer to make a purchase or as a method of informing a purchase? How do you shop?

I learned a new expression last week at the Retail Business Technology Expo at Earls Court, “ME Commerce”, the combination of mobile and e-commerce – the ethos is simple, virtual shopping is no longer limited to sitting in front of a PC or laptop and browsing retailer sites, traditionally referred to as ecommerce. With the advances of mobile / smartphone technology ME Commerce gives the customer, the empowerment to make a decision to buy wherever and however they choose from multichannel retailers. That decision is informed, either passively or proactively: The smart retailers will have enticed you, the customer to interact with their brand.  You may have shopped with them before and they have created a profile of previous brand interaction and purchase habits. You may have previously purchased in their bricks and mortar store but now just received a notification on your mobile phone to download their smartphone app or have been directed to their mobile optimised website. Your friend’s facebook profile may have triggered a conscious desire to click through to a retailer’s profile page with the ability to purchase from within Facebook. You may be part of an online community which has a common loyalty to certain brands.

The retailer’s approach to underpinning the ME Commerce customer offer is extremely important. We live in a world where channels to market are increasing and integrating at an impressive rate. It is alleged that by 2014 there will be more mobile users than PC users. Mobility opens up a completely new dimension to retail which will fast become the norm if the 2014 statistic holds firm. Countries and companies are investing in infrastructures which enable the speed of decision and action to quicken continually. So how does the retailer adapt?

The Customer Experience across all channels needs to be well managed, and consistent throughout. Even though it is alleged that a customer who shops across multiple channels is up to four times more valuable in monetary terms than a customer who shops via a single channel, the customer experience remains of paramount importance to all retailers. The ability for the customer to influence the retailer’s brand identity positively and adversely should be considered by the retailer in parallel to introducing multiple shopping channels. Retailers must map customer interaction with their channels to market; retailers must enable customer support functions to have real time visibility of cross channel customer interaction; retailers must provide a mechanism of capturing customer feedback immediately at the point of decision.

The expression “ME commerce” was positioned as a smart way of referring to the emergence and growing importance of mobile shopping channels alongside traditional ecommerce. The retailer’s challenge and opportunity is to recognise that ME commerce is about ME, the consumer and my ability to shop smarter and to be more demanding.

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