The “smartphone revolution” has truly changed the way consumers interact with brands. From discover and search to purchases, the entire buyer journey can take place all in the palm of our hands.
The number of mobile commerce (or m-commerce) transactions is expected to overtake e-commerce transactions globally by 2019. China will lead the way, this year becoming the first country whose online spending exceeds $1 trillion with mobile devices as the primary gateway to digital commerce.
From e-commerce giants to brick-and-mortar-based service businesses, mobile trends should be understood and embraced by all. As we wind down the year, here are some things we can expect to see in 2019 and beyond.
Personalization Will Continue to be King
71% of consumers report feeling frustrated when they have an impersonal experience with a brand. If you’re shocked by this statistic, you haven’t been paying attention to current trends. From Netflix telling us what series we should watch next based on previous viewing habits to Amazon suggesting products based on past purchases, we live in a world where personalization isn’t an option – it’s expected.
To truly know and understand your customer, you need to gather data on demographics and consumer habits, which will allow you to make meaningful offers that will catch their attention. While companies are still using cookies and website analytics, they are also turning to the power of sensor technology, social media profiles and even facial recognition to help further personalize customer experiences.
However, brands should be weary; new restrictions such as GDPR and a few US states that are following suit, call for new compliance and protections for user data. These laws give users the right to request to know what data companies have collected, and the right to delete that data if they feel their privacy has been infringed upon. However, most people don’t mind companies collecting data on them if it means they get something in return. In fact, a recent Oracle Survey found that 55% of consumers said they would willingly exchange personal details for personalized offers or promotions.
With companies having so much information on us, we can expect to see offers getting even more personal and relevant. With Amazon attributing 35% of their revenue to their product recommendations, and 44% of people becoming repeat customers after receiving a personal experience, there’s big money to be made here.
Of course, delivering these experiences in a personalized way is just as important as the experience itself. No device is more personal than our cell phone and no channel is a personal as text messaging. Texting allows customers to connect with brands anytime, anywhere. It’s a powerful tool from both a service and marketing perspective as 82% of text messages are read within 5 minutes.
Businesses that leverage text messaging for customer communication have an advantage over their competition as they are able to answer customer questions in real-time to help customers get what they need faster while improving staff efficiency through messaging automation.
The Table Stakes of Multichannel Will Need Extra Dressing
Messaging customers is great, but that alone may not be enough to get your customers to interact with your brand. A recent study found that customers who received outreach in two or more channels had levels of engagement 166% higher than the single-channel rate.
As we move more and more into a mobile dominated world, combining channels such as messaging with the power of social media will become increasingly important. The reach and influence of social media will only continue to grow, and people will increasingly use their mobile device to access social media channels.
In light of this, brands should consider social selling, which is predicted to be a big trend in 2019. Instead of just having regular ads via Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat that direct you to a company’s website, shoppable ads give customers the ability to buy directly from the ad via a link.
Neiman Marcus effortlessly combines social selling on Pinterest with other messaging channels. The company uses the buyable pins on Pinterest in addition to utilizing tools on their website and social media to collect information and track preferences. They then take the information (such as location, past searches on their website, previous purchases, etc.) and use it to tailor marketing campaigns and promotions for customers, which are then sent to them via email and print mail.
A further sign of multichannel continuing to rise in importance is Adobe’s recent acquisition of Marketo to help brands of all sizes automate, coordinate, and integrate their campaigns. This turn towards automation will help create and deliver consistent and frequent messages, crafted to get consumers to interact with the brand in more seamless and engaging ways.
Say Hello to a More Immersive Customer Experience
In 2019 we can expect to see virtual and artificial reality becoming more commonplace as a component of the customer experience. These technologies are going to become crucial for showcasing products and virtual tours for hotels, houses, schools, and more. Finding ways to incorporate AR/VR with your offerings will allow your customers to interact and engage with your brand on a completely different level – without even leaving their house.
Companies like Alibaba Group, the world’s largest e-commerce company, are already implementing this kind of technology. By using headsets paired with a mobile device, Chinese consumers can have the full shopping experience, from “perusal to purchase.” Alibaba allows shoppers to browse at Macy’s, Target, Chemist Warehouse and other virtual stores without ever leaving home.
Expedia is following a similar path. Over the next few years they want to not only offer tours of hotel rooms on their website by using VR headsets, but they’ve also invested in using voice devices such as an Amazon Echo to help assist during the booking process. By giving a voice to a chatbot, Expedia believes that they can improve the way people interact with travel and booking sites. The idea would be that an “agent” would come into your home via an Echo and help answer questions and take you through the booking process on your computer or smartphone.
And of course, we can’t forget about the robots. More and more hotels especially are looking to use robot butlers to cut down costs and help with smaller tasks around the property, such as greeting guests, giving directions, or bringing room service and towels. Hotels like Aloft Cupertino in Silicon Valley, Vdara Hotel and Spa in Las Vegas, plus more throughout the U.S and Asia are embracing the technology, which can be summoned from a tablet or mobile device, to help cut back on labor costs. Hotels aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the robot revolution: banks in China are also using robots to improve their customer experience.
While you might not need to go buy a robot for your company, you do need to prepare for shifting consumer expectations by leveraging the tools and technologies that can help you meet them. With the world now in the palm of our hands, companies can either take action or get left behind.