Infonesis Issue no.3, January 2013

As we move into a new year, here's a snapshot of some of the headlines in eCommerce and web marketing in the past few weeks.

In this issue:

Ecommerce: Online retail boom 'will force bricks-and-mortar closures'.
Mobile: NimbleCommerce predict 40% of purchases in 2013 will be mobile or tablet-based.
Local: Retailers target smartphone owners who are already in-store.
Broadband: Mobile broadband 'offers largest revenue growth'.
Music Marketing: How festive songs might be responsible for that 'lost' feeling during Christmas shopping.

Ecommerce

Traditional retailers in the UK are facing a growing challenge from online retail - and many could close their doors for good, according to a December 2012 report from yStats.com.

In its Europe B2C E-Commerce Report 2012, the analyst forecasts continued growth in online retail of over 10% throughout Europe as a whole, in each year until at least 2016.

In 2011, Great Britain ranked behind only Norway in terms of having the highest proportion of online shoppers among its population.

But while this is good news for virtual retailers, it is less positive for their bricks-and-mortar counterparts.

"In Great Britain, the growing popularity of B2C eCommerce is expected to force a considerable number of traditional retailers to close their businesses."

yStats.com Europe B2C E-Commerce Report 2012
December 2012

The good news for some is that businesses which previously had only land-based operations are already among some of the most successful online retailers.

Among them are Tesco and Argos who, along with the purely web-based Amazon, were the most visited online retailers of May 2012.

The challenge for others on the high street will be to emulate the online success of these big brands, and learn to adapt to the increasingly virtual nature of shopping in the UK.

Mobile

A December 17th report from NimbleCommerce predicted a rapid rise in transactions made using mobile and tablet devices.

During 2012, the company saw 90% of purchases via its own platform come from desktop PC systems (presumably including laptops and netbooks), but this figure is predicted to fall as mobile and tablet devices gain a greater market share.

By the end of 2013, the company forecasts that as many as 40% of the transactions it handles could be mobile and tablet-based.

"Mobile and tablet technology still has huge potential for e-deals and offers, and businesses need to be equipped to interact with customers through these channels in 2013."

Peter Casey
European Director, NimbleCommerce

The full report adds that more phone-based redemption of special offers and coupons is likely, along with more phone-linked loyalty schemes.

Overall, NimbleCommerce list five key trends, all of which build on the growing maturity of the mobile market, and of mobile web access where no Wi-Fi hotspot is available.

Together, these trends seem quite reasonable (although the 40% figure might be an over-estimate) and highlight the continued and growing importance of catering for a mobile eCommerce audience.

Local

As mobile web access grows in importance, so does the value of reaching local customers - including hyperlocal shoppers who are already in or just outside your store.

Edison Research reported on December 17th that parents are becoming 'smartphone Santas' for whom mobile technology is a way of reducing stress levels, and improving the shopping experience.

Citing the 2012 Deloitte Holiday Survey, Edison report that:

  • 68% of Christmas shoppers planned to improve their experience using their smartphone (if they had one)
  • 62% planned to use their phone to locate physical branches of retail chains
  • 58% planned to compare prices using their smartphones
  • 50% (or thereabouts) planned to use their smartphones to search for product information

In response, retailers are becoming more mobile-friendly even in-store, adding Wi-Fi hotspots and promotional barcodes that provide exclusive deals to smartphone owners.

"The retailer ultimately wants to keep the shopper in their store and fight against 'showrooming' - the process of browsing items on the shelf, and then going online and ordering the item for a lower price."

Melissa DeCesare
Edison Research

Perhaps the best development of all is the ability to pay for your goods via your phone - not at a till, but using an online checkout system.

In this way, a festive future without Christmas queueing is already becoming a reality for some lucky shoppers, according to Edison.

Broadband

Moving into 2013, and a January 3rd report from Ovum predicts that mobile broadband will give telecom operators the single greatest potential for revenue growth through until at least 2016.

In 2012, 60% of the global telecom operator market in terms of revenues, roughly $1.2 trillion of the $2 trillion total market, went to mobile operators.

For the coming three years, mobile broadband is singled out as the biggest growth prospect, at almost 20% each year, while public cloud services, enterprise Ethernet, IPTV, and managed and hosted VoIP are all expected to see double-digit growth too.

"Over the next 3-4 years, both fixed and mobile operators will face the same fundamental challenge: to increase new sources of revenue fast enough to offset the decline in mature services."

John Lively
Chief Forecaster, Ovum

However, mobile is not the only bright spot in terms of high-speed connectivity, and the enterprise Ethernet market mentioned above is also likely to see demand.

This gives those within the B2B market the chance to provide high-speed networking directly to corporate clients at speeds of 40-100 Gbps - and keep pace with their own competitors at the same time.

Music Marketing

In bricks-and-mortar marketing, research from Royal Holloway university in mid-December indicated how festive shoppers can be manipulated without even realising it.

Academics at the university suggested that the omnipresence of Christmas songs in the run-up to the festive period removes some of the distinction between different shops, reducing consumers' ability to choose where to shop.

"Festive jingles are force-fed to Christmas shoppers in a bid to change their mood, influence their sense of time and what sort of products they buy.

"Often we are told that we have the freedom to choose where we want to shop, but during Christmas the use of music in this way is so ubiquitous that our freedom to choose disappears."

Dr Alan Bradshaw
Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Royal Holloway

And if you're not a fan of Christmas music, you've got every right to be even more annoyed at the prospect of shops using this method of music-based marketing.

That's because research suggests, the more muzakky the song, the more effective it is as a marketing tool - putting shoppers at ease and actually encouraging them not to consciously listen to what is playing.

Dr Bradshaw recommends paying more attention to the music the next time you're in a store - although there are plenty of web marketers who'd prefer it if you simply chose to shop online instead.

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