Game on: Mobile Commerce Surges over Black Friday and Cyber Monday
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Notifications must have been off the charts this week with dispatch alerts pinging from mobile phones around the world, as millions of deliveries went out as part of the aftermath of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. If research by David Greenfield, an expert on technology addiction, is anything to go by, our neurochemical happy dopamine levels will be beating the blues and leaving retailers hoping we are not set to crash until after Christmas.
You didn’t need to visit the high street to know that the smart people were shopping online. Black Friday, coined by the Philadelphia Police Department , was in reference to the disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that consumed the city back in 1961. Borrowed from the US financial crisis of 1869, retailers and PR agencies tried and failed to rename the shopping extravaganza, which kicks off the Christmas season, to something with a more positive spin…and they have even managed to build upon the hype by extending the sales frenzy over the weekend with Cyber Monday too. Names haven’t deterred shoppers from grabbing the bargains and the savvy this year avoided the crowds altogether, opting for the online shopping experience whether via their computer or mobile device.
Reports in from IBM stated that in the US alone, “online sales rose 14.3% on Thanksgiving itself, and 9.5% on Black Friday, fuelled in large part by a surge in mobile commerce.” Europe also went full-force this year on Black Friday promotions for the first time, despite it having always been a US “event”, with sales figures around €35 billion, according to Forrester research. Some of the UK’s leading retailer websites even crashed due to being inundated with online visitors eager to snag a bargain.
In this age of ever-more powerful mobile devices, providing anytime anywhere access, as well as new pioneering digital services available at our fingertips every day, people are becoming ”screen-time junkies”, living in the mobile channel…but what more could retailers do to capture their audience via their mobile phones which would differentiate their services and encourage them to engage and potentially spend even more?
Harnessing The Power of Video
We have all come to expect the freedom, assurance and convenience of online shopping and with 2 out of 3 people expected to have a smartphone by 2020 globally (according to the GSMA), accessibility to this opens up to even more people. Where internet access and mobile penetration meet, this is rapidly opening up access to pocket sized super computers, making this an exciting new ecosystem for all.
Mobile use will drive the majority of web traffic in 2018, and 79% of all this data traffic will be video (according to Cisco). Some retailers are now taking advantage of this video trend, with Amazon leading the way with Mayday, their WebRTC service that provides instant video connectivity to a contact centre agent for customers who have questions. Now as the technology moves beyond its infancy, the opportunities in delivering seamless customer support via rich communication services are boundless.
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now past, retailers could exploit the use of WebRTC video capabilities to provide value added services to their customers via their online portals and via their mobiles. Instead of having to struggle with your mobile browser on your touchscreen, imagine being able to have a video chat with your favourite retailer while you’re out shopping for Christmas presents – “what is the best toy from “Frozen” that would suit my 2 year old?”, “what recommendations do you have for a present for my grandfather?”, or “I’m trying to buy the ingredients for Christmas dinner, I’m in the store now, could you guide me through what I should buy?”. Alternatively, post purchase support is also an avenue to keep contact lines open with customers, such as “my new laptop isn’t loading correctly and I can’t get to a store, could you guide me through?”. These sorts of services could be marketed en masse or as VIP services to high value customers, much like Barclays ground-breaking announcement just a few days ago, where they are offering 24/7 video chat services from their mobile or computer, available initially to their Premier Banking customers.
Automated, call centre, text and web based customer service experiences will still have their place, but by bringing that human element back to customer care, enterprises across all verticals, can begin to truly own their customer relationships again, ensuring that their customers feel cared about, thereby building brand loyalty and creating a real customer relationship.
As our Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision said, “We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear.”
Now that’s a whole lot of positive for the online shopping experience…Happy Shopping!