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May 25, 2016

A Quick Postcard from the Future of Digital (Thinks Out Loud Episode 164)

May 25, 2016 | By | No Comments

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A quick postcard from the future of digital

A Quick Postcard from the Future of Digital (Thinks Out Loud Episode 164) – Headlines and Show Notes

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about how to lead mobile-focused digital transformation within large organizations (a topic we’ve been talking about a fair bit lately). Here are the slides for your reference:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 22s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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May 24, 2016

OTA’s vs. Chain Brands: Expedia Comes Out Swinging

May 24, 2016 | By | No Comments

OTA's vs. Chain Brands: Expedia Comes Out Swinging

Shots fired.

In the last several months most of the major hotel chains have worked aggressively to promote the concept of driving guests directly to their brand websites. And, amazingly, the major OTA’s have simply sat back and done nothing to respond to this challenge.

Oh, wait. That’s not what happened at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

In a recent post on Tnooz, Melissa Maher of Expedia responded to this recent competitive shift, and, in effect, declared all out war on the brands by claiming that these hotel programs actively hurt individual hotel owners. Maher’s key quote:

“In recent years, Expedia’s average compensation rate has gone down several hundred basis points to make the OTA value proposition to owners even stronger. Unfortunately, the chains, who are mostly asset-light marketing and distribution companies, have yet to make a step in the same direction for the benefits of their owners by reducing their franchise fees.

Expedia has outpaced the chains’ direct channels growth by demonstrating consumer value and, as a result, increased the OTA share of the mix of chain hotels’ bookings. This means that owners are now feeling the pinch of the large franchise fees that chains charge on bookings made via OTA channels even more.”

Damn. That’s harsh. Maher continues,

“Owners of franchised hotels should take a step back and consider how these actions by their chains impact their results.

If an owner agrees that making great rates available for consumers shopping and booking on Expedia is not only in the best interest of consumers but also in their own best interests, they should contact their chains and let them know.

More generally, they can work with their Expedia contacts on how they can better serve their mutual customers.”

That logic might not hurt hotel owners. But it does make my head hurt. I’d point out that Maher’s official title is senior vice president of the Global Partner Group. “Partner,” eh? In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, Ms. Maher, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Do you know what actually drove down Expedia’s average compensation rate over the last several years? Aggressive negotiation by those same brands that Maher takes issue with. It’s understandable that OTA’s might have some lingering feelings about that.

(Full disclosure: I used to work for two major hotel brands and still hold stock in one. However, I’m not “pro-brand;” I’m “pro-hotel.” Brands are a useful option for many hotel owners, but many independent hotels can and do succeed without chain affiliation. Most of our hospitality clients today are independent hotels and manage to do quite well for themselves. It’s not a question of one being better than the other; it’s a question of which approach is right for your hotel. Additionally, I’m not anti-OTA. I’ve argued OTA’s represent an important component of your distribution mix — at least when not trying to soak you for more money. Again, it’s back to where do they fit the needs of your property.)

What’s Really Going On With Expedia vs. Chain Brands

The biggest problem with Maher’s post is that comparing Expedia (or any OTA) to a chain brand is like comparing apples and supermarkets. One tries to satisfy your hunger on an as-needed basis. The other tries to keep your pantry filled all year long. It’s absolutely true that sometimes all you need is a snack. It’s also true that some supermarkets need to do a better job of filling your pantry at a fair price. But they’re still radically different solutions to the same underlying problem. In the analogy, hunger. In the real world, putting guests in your hotel, night after night.

Maher’s right about one thing. Margins on OTA’s have fallen dramatically over the last couple of years, sometimes ranging as low as 12-15% for branded properties (independents often pay more due to a lack of scale/bargaining power). And in some cases, that percentage comes close to the share of revenue chain properties pay to their brand each year.

The core problem with Maher’s argument is this: Most chains provide lots more than just reservations. They also offer some combination of services that can include:

  • Your hotel’s technology stack (PMS, RMS, connectivity services, etc.);
  • Recognition/rewards/loyalty programs;
  • Additional reservations channels such as a GDS chain code, travel agency sales, and a call center;
  • Revenue management services;
  • Operational and training support;
  • Access to financing;
  • Marketing of your destination and individual property alike;
  • volume purchasing and various other management services/support for your property managers.

Oh, and the negotiating power that’s helped drive down the cost of OTA margins.

By contrast, do you really think Expedia purchased Travelocity and Orbitz simply so they could lower margins for hotel owners? Probably not.

Do Your Hotel Need a Brand?

All that said, that doesn’t mean that every hotel should carry a brand. Everything I’ve just mentioned that a chain provides only matters if your hotel and your guests actually need it and if you can get it for the right price. In fact, in many ways it’s easier today for the right kinds of properties to survive and thrive as independent hotels than ever before.

Thanks to significant innovations by folks like Amadeus, Sabre, SHR, SiteMinder, TravelTripper, TravelClick and others, independent hotels have a wealth of options to connect with guests. Plenty of outstanding hotel marketing solutions exist (including some offered by your humble blogger’s company) to get your property’s name in front of potential guests.

“Soft” brands, including legacy players such as The Leading Hotels of the World, Preferred Hotels and Small Luxury Hotels of the World, as well as new entrants from the major chains themselves (BW Premier Collection from Best Western, Choice’s Ascend Collection, Curio from Hilton, Marriott’s Autograph Collection, Starwood’s Tribute Portfolio, etc.) provide yet another set of alternatives.

And the OTA’s have responded here too with Priceline introducing BookingSuite a couple years back and Expedia looking to power bookings and investing in Alice to support guests throughout their journey in partnership (there’s that word again) with hotels.

In other words, you’ve got plenty of options available to you. The real question remains which one works best for your property’s — and your guests’ — needs.

Conclusion

Almost a year ago to the day I asked, “are hotel brands doomed?” (independent hotels, too, for that matter). At the time Starwood had just put itself up for sale but had not yet joined forces with Marriott. Airbnb and OTAs were putting heavy competitive pressures on hotel brands. And at that same time, most hotel brands were still figuring out how to drive more direct business.

Fast forward a year and, oh, how the world has changed.

The key takeaway is that you can’t let Expedia — or anyone else for that matter — try to confuse the issues here. Expedia’s claims have little to do with what’s truly best for your hotel and have lots to do with what’s best for Expedia. They’re (perhaps understandably) frustrated with the beating they’ve taken from the chains over the last few months and have decided to hit back. Hard.

As a property owner or manager, your job is to take care of your guests and to do so profitably. You can accomplish that effectively as part of a chain or as an independent, using OTA’s where they make sense and driving direct business everywhere else. Work on building relationships with your guests and telling your property’s story most effectively. And let’s hope the “partners” figure it out soon and then focus on helping guests, too.

OTA’s vs. Chain Brands: Expedia Comes Out Swinging — TL; DR

  • Hotels should consider the costs and benefits received of each component of the value chain: brand, channel partner, marketing agency, web developer, etc.
  • Brands and channel partners like Expedia offer vastly different services. Yes, there’s some convergence among their services going on. But it’s hardly an apples-to-apples comparison at this point.
  • Brands aren’t doomed. Neither are independents. Each can succeed in the marketplace if they offer value to their guests and choose the right partner(s) to help serve their guests’ needs.
  • Expedia — or any OTA — claiming they can meet 100% of your hotel’s needs at this point is, frankly, just silly.
  • Relying on any one “partner” only hurts you in the long run as it creates a gatekeeper effect, increasing their opportunities to charge you more for their services.
  • Don’t let Expedia — or anyone else in the discussion — misdirect you from your actual objective: Driving increased revenues, ongoing support, and exceptional return on your investment from each component of the value chain.

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing guest behavior shapes hospitality marketing, e-commerce, and distribution, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to take a moment to review the slides from my recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

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May 23, 2016

VR, AI, and UX: 7 Posts Highlighting Top Trends for 2016

May 23, 2016 | By | No Comments

VR, AI, and UX: 7 Posts Highlighting Top Trends for 2016

Hope you’re having a great start to your week, Big Thinkers. To make it even more successful, you might want to learn about VR, AI, and UX with these 7 posts highlighting top trends for 2016. Enjoy:

  1. Cnet talks with Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai about his AI vision, summing up what Pichai expects AI to do as, “Hi. How can I help?” Google’s taking a huge step towards the next version of the Internet — or at least what one future might look like — where voice and VR replace keyboards and screens. They’re clearly stepping deeper into virtual reality and messaging (a subject I’m still bullish about), which signals how seriously the search giant takes this shift. One reason you ought to believe them? Well, Google says 20% of mobile queries are now voice searches. And that number’s only going to grow.
  2. A report from Business Insider’s Matt Weinberger quotes Google’s Diane Greene as saying both Google and Amazon Web Services can win in this new cloud-based version of computing and the Internet, further underscoring exactly how big this all might become.
  3. As Greene notes, Amazon’s hardly out of the game. In fact, Joshua Jamerson writes over at the Wall Street Journal that Amazon’s expanding its restaurant delivery to New York and Dallas, getting deeper into the overall customer experience. [Editor’s note: Copy and paste the title of the WSJ piece into Google if you get blocked by — and don’t want to deal with — the Journal’s paywall.]
  4. In fact, if we look at what’s holding mobile commerce back, it seems ever more likely that customer experience plays a critical role. Melissa Gonzalez offers some thoughts over at PSFK on how brands can build human connections that’s well worth reading.
  5. One way you can absolutely help your customers is with a deeper investment into content marketing since we’re all publishers now. You might also want to make room for mobile video to help tell your brand’s story and answer your customers’ key questions. However, be aware that some data shows there’s little consumer interest in paying for ad-free digital content (see my tip for bypassing the Journal’s paywall as just one example). But, again, I think the issue is more one of quality and experience than willingness to pay. Customers usually don’t mind opening their wallet for things they value. The key is giving them something to value in the first place.
  6. Another struggle you’ll want to watch out for is the increasing challenge and cost of finding the right resources for your digital marketing initiatives. Recent research from eMarketer highlights that marketers still struggle balancing marketing technology tools and talent. We’ve got some experience in this area here, so feel free to drop me a line if you’d like some help.
  7. Finally, you might find these 11 data-driven marketing insights from last week a great asset to build on these trends and start your week off right.

If you want learn even more about how your customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure and register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

By

May 22, 2016

6 Super Hospitality Marketing Posts from the Past Week: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

May 22, 2016 | By | No Comments

6 Super Hospitality Marketing Posts from the Past Week: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

It’s been a big week for the hospitality industry, Big Thinkers. Need proof? Just check out these 6 super hospitality marketing posts from the past week to see why. Enjoy:

  1. The most important story of the past week, by far, is this Tnooz editorial from Expedia’s Melissa Maher that claims publicly available loyalty rates may be bad for hotel owners. I’ll have a lot more to say about this in our regular Travel Tuesday post later this week, but for now I’m shocked by the rhetoric from Expedia’s “Partner” Group. Stay tuned for more on this topic in the next couple of days.
  2. Deanna Ting from Skift explains why Airbnb and other travel brands are interested in blockchain technology. While it’s not a simple answer, the whole story is well worth reading.
  3. Carolyn Murphy talks about what Facebook’s algorithm change means for hotels on social media in a recent Revinate blog post. Good read. It’s also a good place to remind you that, for travel marketers, content is still king.
  4. Mobile Commerce Daily’s Chantal Tode reports that Kayak lands on Amazon Alexa, bringing voice search to travel discovery. I’ve used the technology and can say it’s really solid. Expect a lot more of movement in this space over the next couple of years as we see increasing signs of what the future of marketing might look like.
  5. A couple of recent posts here on Thinks looked at four key elements of modern hospitality marketing and asked where are all the mobile bookings?
  6. And, finally, don’t miss these 7 sensational social hospitality marketing insights from the regular Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series or this similarly-named collection of 7 sensational marketing and distribution insights, the Top Posts of February, 2016.

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing guest behavior shapes hospitality marketing, e-commerce, and distribution, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to take a moment to review the slides from my recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

By

May 20, 2016

6 Must-See Social and Mobile Commerce Posts from the Past Week: E-commerce Link Digest

May 20, 2016 | By | No Comments

Must-See Social and Mobile Commerce Posts

Hey, Big Thinkers! Hope you’re having an amazing Friday. How about we kick off the weekend the right way with this amazing set of 6 must-see social and mobile commerce posts from the past week? Enjoy:

  1. Leading off, we took a look at amazing numbers that show why mobile commerce is about to explode and asked, what’s holding mobile commerce back? Good stuff, that’s well worth reading, especially given that, according to Portia Crowe at Business Insider, retail and e-commerce are converging.
  2. On a highly related note, Brielle Jaekel at Mobile Marketer writes that marketers need to push for quality mobile content. That’s huge, given that, we’re all publishers now.
  3. Mihir Kittur at The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce blog outlines how to boost online conversion and says we need to open our ears. Helpful tips throughout.
  4. Chantal Tode from Mobile Commerce Daily reports that MCX has bowed out of the space as the opportunity narrows for new mobile payment entries. That doesn’t change the fact that mobile payments will rule and I remain bullish on mobile payments (and messaging, too). If you’re curious for more insights as to why that is, you might want to review these 6 awesome insights about mobile payments, e-commerce and even more.
  5. eMarketer compiled a set of data that shows marketers continue to struggle to balance marketing technology tools and talent.
  6. Finally, let’s finish off where started, by recapping these 11 data-driven marketing insights to start your (next) week off right and this set of 10 killer mobile and e-commerce resources, the top posts of April, 2016.

If you want learn even more about how your customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure and register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

By

May 18, 2016

What’s Holding Mobile Commerce Back? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 163)

May 18, 2016 | By | No Comments

What's holding mobile commerce back? Man shopping on mobile phone

What’s Holding Mobile Commerce Back? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 163) – Headlines and Show Notes

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about how to lead mobile-focused digital transformation within large organizations (a topic we’ve been talking about a fair bit lately). Here are the slides for your reference:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 12m 26s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

By

May 16, 2016

11 Data-Driven Marketing Insights to Start Your Week Off Right

May 16, 2016 | By | No Comments

Data-driven marketing insights: Marketers reviewing data

Happy Monday, Big Thinkers. Hope you had an amazing weekend. Before you get too deep into the week, I thought you might appreciate these 11 data-driven marketing insights to start your week off right. Enjoy:

  1. Elyse Dupre of Direct Marketing News says the battle for marketers’ mindshare intensifying and explains “how marketers can select providers that play to their strengths.” Really useful insights to start off your week.
  2. Over on AdExchanger, Matt Nitzberg argues ‘prove it or lose it’ budgeting is good for marketing. Money quote:
    “To win in a prove-it-or-lose-it environment, marketers need to focus on high-level metrics that make sense — and are persuasive — to the executive team, the board and their marketing partners. Marketers can then mandate that individual teams work to connect their own metrics to these key metrics so that everyone is running in the same direction.”

    Great stuff all around there.

  3. Ted Rubin writes on THE SOCIAL CMO Blog that social listening is finally getting some play. About time, right? I love this quote:
    “Brand loyalty declines due to lack of relevance… a direct result of not listening. Number one is always try to understand who your customer is and pay attention.”

    Very, very smart.

  4. Portia Crowe at Business Insider has an excellent story outlining how retail and e-commerce are converging that’s well worth your time.
  5. Meanwhile, Kristin Schepici of The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce asks, is mobile conversion the Holy Grail of retail? I strongly suspect so. In fact, as we posted last week, these amazing numbers show why mobile commerce is about to explode. And these 8 amazing e-commerce and mobile masterpieces just serve to underscore the trend.
  6. One key driver that will increase mobile conversion is the emergence of mobile payments — in fact, we’ve argued why mobile payments will rule — which makes these 6 awesome insights about mobile payments, e-commerce and even more a must-read for you this week.
  7. Speaking of conversion, Marketing Charts has data that shows A/B testing continues to get the nod for conversion rate optimization, as well as it should. If you’re not too familiar with the topic, check out our full coverage of A/B testing here.
  8. Continuing with our “data-driven marketing insights” theme, Benjamin Spiegel has a great piece on ClickZ featuring eight predictions about the future of big data in marketing that’s definitely worth a look.
  9. Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with data-driven marketing. eMarketer uncovers data about what digital department store services consumers find creepy that you really ought to pay attention to.
  10. MarketingProfs’ Will McInnes explains how you can win with social intelligence with these vital tips for CMOs in 2016 and beyond. This quote sums it best:
    “…with social media platforms probing the world’s largest focus group every second of every day, the modern CMO would be foolish to think he/she can maintain success without tuning into the social world—the desires expressed there, trends, popular stories, and what the collective social Web says and feels about their brands.”

  11. And, finally, don’t miss these 10 killer mobile and e-commerce resources: the top posts of April, 2016 from here on Thinks. Just more great content and insights to put data-driven marketing to work for your brand and business.

If you want learn even more about how your customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure and register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

By

May 15, 2016

7 Sensational Social Hospitality Marketing Insights: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

May 15, 2016 | By | No Comments

Sensational social hospitality marketing insightsHey, Big Thinkers! Hope you’re having a great weekend. No big setup this week, just 7 sensational social hospitality marketing insights from the past week for today’s Hospitality Marketing Link Digest entry. Enjoy:

  1. Revinate explains what Facebook’s algorithm change means for hotels on social media. Tnooz also offers 10 reasons why Dynamic Ads for Travel from Facebook heralds a new era of travel marketing. A really worthwhile read, especially when you remember that it’s Facebook’s world and we’re all living in it.
  2. Ryan Solutions looks at the incredibly short shelf life of hotel and resort social media posts. Doesn’t that make you wonder is social a waste of time for hotel marketers? Spoiler: It’s not. But the key is focusing on measurement and doubling down on those areas where social works effectively for your property.
  3. Speaking of using social effectively for your property, Debbie Miller over on Maximize Social Business uncovers 4 ways hotels can use social media to grow their email list, which is a great step towards engaging your hotel’s secret sales force.
  4. Research from Adobe Digital Index’s “2016 Travel Report” suggests that July Fourth online travel spend will top Cyber Monday, which begs the question: where are all the mobile bookings?
  5. Christopher Regalado writes on Leonardo’s blog that you can drive more hotel bookings with intelligent, personal content. Damn straight. We recently outlined why hotel marketing depends on personalization and offered this presentation about maximizing data to put personalization to work for your property:

    Of course, you’ve got to remember that personalization starts with a person.

  6. Personalization represents just one of the four key elements of modern hospitality marketing, while mobile and social play important complementary roles. Make sure you’re putting these to work for your property.
  7. Finally, don’t miss these 8 Excellent Hotel E-Commerce Insights from our ongoing Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series. They add even more insights and context to the items above and will help you improve your property marketing efforts, whether on mobile, social, or the plain ol’ web.

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing guest behavior shapes hospitality marketing, e-commerce, and distribution, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to take a moment to review the slides from my recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

By

May 11, 2016

What the Future of Marketing Might Look Like (Thinks Out Loud Episode 162)

May 11, 2016 | By | No Comments

What the future of marketing might look like

What the Future of Marketing Might Look Like (Thinks Out Loud Episode 162) – Headlines and Show Notes

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about how to lead mobile-focused digital transformation within large organizations (a topic we’ve been talking about a fair bit lately). Here are the slides for your reference:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 15s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

By

May 9, 2016

These Amazing Numbers Show Why Mobile Commerce is About to Explode

May 9, 2016 | By | No Comments

Amazing numbers about mobile commerce: Young woman shopping on mobile phone in storeSome amazing numbers out today you really ought to know about. According to eMarketer:

“As a result of this rapid growth, m-commerce will account for just under one-third of retail e-commerce sales and 2.6% of total retail this year.”

That’s huge. eMarketer continues:

“The experiences of e-commerce executives who spoke with eMarketer reflected this trend. ‘The trajectory that we’ve seen over the last year was fundamentally different than in other years,’ said Prama Bhatt, vice president of digital and ecommerce at beauty products chain Ulta Beauty.

Bob Sherwin, senior director of acquisition at ecommerce furniture company Wayfair, reported a similar pattern. ‘Over the past year we’ve seen consumers’ willingness to purchase on mobile increase a lot, to the point where the share of transactions taking place on the smartphone has doubled since late 2014.’

At the same time, I’m not surprised. In fact, the team here laid out the factors driving e-commerce growth in 2015 (and beyond, really) a while ago. And, for the most part, seems to have called this one.

First, due to the massive growth of smartphones in the marketplace, customers are now able to by whenever and wherever they want. And as they’ve become increasingly accustomed to having that flexibility, they’ve put it to use.

Second, the emergence of Millennials as the largest generation in the United States has accelerated this shift. These folks take mobile for granted. It’s not a new technology or a new channel. It’s just there. And they expect it to work.

This wasn’t a prediction; it was an it was an inevitability.

We’re far from done here. We’re going to see Millennials continue to enter the marketplace in even larger numbers over the next couple of years. And their elders will adapt over time too. But the trend is undoubtedly clear. Millennials and mobile go hand-in-hand, and it’s now your challenge to assist customers in accomplishing their goals on mobile and online and in-store, every day.

The companies that do a good job of this can expect to succeed as we move forward. And the ones that don’t… well, I’m afraid their numbers may not be so amazing.

If you want learn even more about how your customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure and register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success: