High expectations are the key to everything. Take mobile for example. Apps from Starbucks, Uber, Netflix, and Apple have all made outstanding digital experiences expected and commonplace. Finally, customers have a taste of products and services that work the way they should, effectively reprogramming consumer expectations for all digital experiences.
Millennials, in particular, have latched onto these high expectations more than anyone else. As the first generation of digital natives, this group (which includes anyone born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s) regularly buys online through multiple devices, and is set to dominate and control the majority of consumer spending power. Millennials already spend more online than the average U.S. online shopper, and account for almost one-fifth of the total U.S. online population.
By the year 2025, millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. The influence this demographic has on sales is so powerful, retail analysts such as Forrester have invented a whole new name for them -- they’re called “super shoppers.” As a brand or retailer, that either makes the millennial your new best friend or your worst nightmare, depending on how bad your digital experience is. Fact is, most companies are simply not equipped to deal with today’s digital realties.
Take the mobile mind shift, for example. Not only have mobile devices proliferated across the world at a breakneck pace (globally, more mobile phone subscriptions exist -- 6.8 billion -- than there are people with running water within 1 kilometer of their homes -- 3.3 billion), they have actually reshaped basic human behavior. Consider that the average smartphone user reaches into their pocket or purse approximately every six minutes to do everything from checking the weather, or reading an e-mail, to sending a text, getting directions, flirting on Tinder, or hailing a taxi (do we still call it that, or are we at the point where it is called an “Uber”?).
In Forrester Research’s up-coming book The Mobile Mind Shift, the authors describe a world where the new battleground for customers is the mobile moment. The authors posit that the mobile phenomenon has created a sort of Pavlovian response in mobile users — the expectation that I can get what I want, anytime, in my immediate context.
If your business is ready for the mobile mind shift, then your customers will love you. But if you're not, there's a very good chance you're about to lose their business to a mobile-savvy competitor. There is good news, though. Getting ready for the mobile mind shift has never been easier thanks to the steady evolution of technology. Marketing clouds and more flexible commerce technology have put mobile apps with amazing content experiences within easy reach.
Take Adobe, for example. The software company perhaps best known for Photoshop has branched out to become a full-blown marketing platform. In fact, for mobile, Adobe has gone all-in and now boasts a significant amount of street cred among mobile developers. Adobe tools such as PhoneGap -- which allows you to create killer mobile apps using common web technologies -- and Adobe’s new Mobile SDK allow you to create amazing digital experiences with relative ease.
The key for brands and retailers is monetizing these mobile digital experiences. This can take the form of commerce-enabling a mobile app -- say through a traditional ecommerce checkout scenario -- or something more multi-channel. Take iBeacons for example, which can talk to your mobile app and detect when a customer is close to your store, or even which department inside your store they’re currently browsing. Paired with a flexible ecommerce platform and Adobe Marketing Cloud, retailers can now target specific offers at users that have a much higher chance of driving sales. By combining mobile with personalization and flexible commerce technologies, brands and retailers can increase sales by providing a vastly superior shopping experience.
Investing in mobile is not as straightforward as building a mobile app and releasing it into an app store. Digital marketing agency SapientNitro recommends that brands and retailers consider how well marketing systems and ecommerce platforms integrate with each other. Planning for the long term, cost effectiveness, and scalability are essential. Technologists must also look at specific applications in the context of what will be needed to create the desired, unified customer experience. Often times, a best-of-breed strategy works extremely well, allowing each application to do what it does best without overlapping features.
As a brand or retailer, that either makes the Millennial your new best friend or your worst nightmare, depending on how bad your digital experience is. Fact is, most companies are simply not equipped to deal with today’s digital realties.
Mobile commerce and marketing technology is rapidly moving customers into a new way of thinking and shopping. Savvy brands and retailers need to adopt their own mobile mind shift in order to respond.
Matt Dion is VP of marketing for Elastic Path Software. He can be reached at [email protected]