Infonesis Issue no.1, November 2012

The web moves pretty fast - if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Here are just a few key stats you may have missed from the past few weeks, giving a glimpse of how things stand right now.

For direct sources on any of the stats given below, click the asterisks after each named reference.

Ecommerce

Searches for 'Christmas gifts' and 'Christmas presents' roughly tripled in the UK during October (see Google Trends chart below), as the traditional seasonal rush began in earnest - is your content keyworded for Christmas?

An ICM Research poll* for Retail Week published on October 8th revealed that:

5% of shoppers had already finished their Christmas gift buying;
12% expected to finish in October;
8% did not know when they would finish;
3% did not plan to buy any gifts this year.

That leaves a potential market of 73% of the population still buying gifts in November, due to drop by a further 36 percentage points by the end of the month - are you making the most of the Christmas market while it lasts?


UK relative search volumes in 2012, queries 'Christmas gifts' and 'Christmas presents', via Google Trends

Mobile

An October 30th report from Strategy Analytics* found that 75% of iPhone users in Western Europe are likely to buy a new phone from Apple when they reach their time to upgrade.

This is down from 88% in 2011, while in the US the proportion has dropped from 93% to 88% in the same period.

Paul Brown, director at Strategy Analytics' User Experience Practice, cited "negative press prompted by a perceived lack of recent innovation by Apple" as a downward influence on loyalty, even among previously very loyal customers.

With Samsung still making strong in-roads into the smartphone market, and Nokia driving hard for success on its upcoming Lumia 820 and 920 models, it's coming to crunch time for Apple.

In this fast-moving smartphone market, are you keeping other platforms in mind when programming your mobile websites, or are you putting all your apples in one basket?

Local

If 75% customer loyalty sounds good to you (and most of us would be happy to see 75% repeat customers in our ecommerce analytics reports), then spare a thought for Scott Forstall.

An October 29th press release from Apple* included the fairly innocuous line: "Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim."

This relatively simple statement - and it's worth perhaps noting that no other mention of Scott Forstall was made in the 500-word press release - was pounced on by analysts as proof that he had been ousted for refusing to apologise for his involvement in the creation of Apple's in-house iOS Maps, the intended replacement to Google Maps in iOS 6, but which left customers unimpressed.

Wartime black-and-white aerial photographs, apocalyptic-looking 3D mapping glitches and erroneous location pinpoints - not to mention a route-planning tool with no sense of direction - made iOS Maps one of the biggest embarrassments Apple has faced in recent years.

Based on October 29th's news, it seems the only route Scott Forstall will be planning in 2013 will be a one-way route away from Apple.

Broadband

4G mobile internet launched on October 30th, using the freed-up bandwidth from the demise of analogue television broadcasting (RIP, Ceefax).

Research from network operator EE* found 74% of UK businesses expect to adopt 4G within its first 12 months.

The protocol offers high-speed mobile internet connectivity - although notably, EE's press release did not put a precise figure on the possible top speed.

Just 11 cities had coverage from day one, with five more due to be switched on by Christmas. EE plans to cover a third of the UK population with access to 4G services by the end of the year.


Battersea Power Station pimped for the EE launch event

Smartphone web access has always been a compromise between high-speed, reliable Wi-Fi where available, and slow, buggy 3G where a wireless connection cannot be found.

Could 4G bridge the gap and finally make anywhere, anytime mobile web access a reality?

Falling Star

Finally, the beginning of November brought with it the demise of electricals retailer Comet, after a failed rescue bid by OpCapita.

Back in February, OpCapita's John Clare, former boss of Dixons, revealed his plan to rescue Comet was to "get back to its core proposition"* by pretending the past two decades never happened.

His assertion that Comet's future lay in its past - and a return to its 1980s approach to business, when it was still successful - was bizarrely ridiculed in OpCapita's own press release.

The company quoted Adam Cochrane, retail analyst at UBS, as saying: "Online and the convenience of click-and-collect are the fastest-growing areas of electrical retailing.

"Customers want to order more cheaply and get delivery quicker. Making people choose your internet site will be the key battleground going forwards."

Deloitte were officially appointed as administrators to Comet on November 2nd* and cited poor consumer confidence and a lack of first-time property buyers as the causes for the retailer's demise.

Neville Kahn, joint administrator and restructuring services partner at Deloitte, said: "It has become increasingly difficult for [Comet] to compete with online retailers which don't face the same overheads such as store rents and business rates."

Whether you're a pure-online operator, or have bricks-and-mortar overheads of your own to meet, Comet's tale is an indication that the two worlds of commerce are very much entwined - and you'd better make sure you're equipped to deal with shocks both within the world of ecommerce, and on the high street.

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