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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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September 25, 2013

Streamlining Sales and Marketing with Mobile – Thinks Out Loud Episode 43

September 25, 2013 | By | No Comments

Mobile commerce grows up

Streamlining E-commerce with Mobile Headlines

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

And, as promised, here’s the video of those Microsoft concepts for you to check out:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 17m 52s

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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September 23, 2013

Mobile Makes E-commerce Even More "Frictionless"

September 23, 2013 | By | No Comments

E-commerce on smartphones is frictionlessI’ve been playing with Apple’s new iOS 7 the last few days and it got me thinking about how frictionless e-commerce already is on mobile. Consider these customer experiences:

  • Apple’s new iTunes Radio allows for song purchases directly from within the player, as have Pandora and others.
  • Apple’s flagship iPhone 5s can use its TouchID fingerprint reader to authorize purchases in iTunes for music, apps, and movies.
  • Amazon’s Kindle line enables consumers simple access to buy both digital and physical inventory.
  • UK retail giant Tesco has introduced a new device, the Hudl, largely to achieve benefits similar to the Kindle’s.
  • Google offers its Wallet payment platform on both Android devices and, as of last week, iOS, streamlining purchases and money transfers.
  • eBay offers a variety of apps providing instant access to commerce activities for its users across mobile platforms.

And, of course, all of these ignore the myriad in-app purchase capabilities among numerous games and productivity apps, whether offered as add-on’s to an existing paid product or as part of a “free-mium” business model (providing a free basic version and selling premium features for power users).

The Value of “Frictionless” E-commerce

Now, streamlining purchase activity has long been a central tenet of e-commerce. Amazon and eBay have built their businesses primarily on moving the barriers between consumers and commerce (for example with tools like this, this, this, and this).

But mobile destroys those barriers.

While many mobile e-commerce applications have lots of room to improve, the integration available across mobile platforms, including shopping/browsing history and payment information, combine to produce the “slickest” (in terms of friction) commerce capabilities we’ve ever seen. Facebook already has gotten in the game, partnering with a number of payment providers and e-commerce shops to facilitate streamlined payment.

AGFAM and Frictionless E-commerce

Among the AGFAM players, Facebook and Google may face a slight disadvantage here (and, really, I can’t emphasize slight enough — after all, check out what Facebook’s doing with payment integration as mentioned earlier). But with their long-term focus on growing advertising revenue, they’re simply less accustomed to monetizing the transaction, typically preferring to monetize the traffic, visit, visitor, or “eyeball” instead. That’s not necessarily a weakness; it could well be a strength. It’s simply that their (relative) inexperience facilitating transactions may provide Amazon, Apple, eBay, and even Yahoo openings to dominate the space over time.

Mobile Drives “Big Data,” Improves Context and Conversions

And, of course, none of this takes into account the consumer data available from the mobile experience itself, including location, motion, and more advanced data coming in next generation devices. The trend is clear: “content + context” data will continue to drive conversions, both in 2013 and beyond.

Conclusion

Mobile brings e-commerce into the retail environment to the point where “it’s just shopping.”

The key is how quickly you embrace that reality to decrease friction for your customers—and conversions for yourself.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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August 23, 2013

The More Things Change…

August 23, 2013 | By | No Comments

The game has changedYesterday, Expedia and Travelocity entered into a strategic alliance, with Expedia agreeing to provide its technology platform to Travelocity. Meanwhile, this morning, Microsoft announced CEO Steve Ballmer will return within the next 12 months. All of this on the heels of Yahoo beating Google’s traffic figures for the first time in 2 years.

Given that I’d talked about the pace of change in the digital environment during yesterday’s podcast, I couldn’t have planned this better if I tried (thanks, Expedia-locity and Microsoft!)

Anyway, all these changes got me thinking about how fundamentally today’s environment has shifted over the last couple of years and what that means going forward.

The Expedia-Travelocity hookup and Steve Ballmer’s pending retirement signal the end of traditional “Web 1.0” powers. Seriously. While I don’t think it’s particularly good for travel suppliers in the short run, Travelocity “throwing in the towel,” as Henry Harteveldt points out, also underscores the company’s failure to compete effectively against younger, nimbler rivals (largely due to poor execution, which I’ve talked about before as a real key to innovation; Henry Harteveldt makes a related argument in his piece, highlighting Travelocity’s under-investment in new products and services).

However, I don’t think this is a sign that Expedia will win, either. After all, Yahoo famously outsourced its search capabilities to Microsoft a few years ago, but neither company has really done much damage to Google in that space. Yes, Expedia might see some short-term benefit, but will those gains be enough to stave off heavy competition from Priceline, Booking.com, or TripAdvisor? I seriously doubt it. At least not without continued innovation and investment in social and mobile tools for its customers.

Meanwhile in Redmond, Steve Ballmer has watched Microsoft’s AGFAM brethren Apple, Google, and Facebook dominate most emerging product lines (MS really only dominates with Xbox and its cash cow Office suite). And Microsoft’s stock has taken a beating during Ballmer’s tenure, falling over 40% since he took over as CEO (in fairness, he got the big chair at the height of the bubble 13 years ago). But the 8% jump in share price today on news of his pending retirement ain’t exactly a glowing endorsement of the soon-to-be-retired chief’s leadership.

Instead, these changes illustrate exactly how significantly the digital landscapes has shifted in the last few years. The companies focused on connecting customers using social and mobile and local search have surged to the forefront, while more established players have struggled to keep up.

Yes, Travelocity, Expedia, and Microsoft could get back in the game—just look at the job Marissa Mayer’s done at Yahoo over the last year. But they’ll only succeed by acknowledging that the playing field has changed… and by changing their game, too.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, 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 enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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August 22, 2013

Does Your Digital Strategy Account For Change? Thinks Out Loud Episode 40

August 22, 2013 | By | No Comments

Changes driving your digital strategy

Does Your Digital Strategy Account For Change? Headlines

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 17m 43s

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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August 20, 2013

Shouldn't Mobile be More than Last-Minute? (Travel Tuesday)

August 20, 2013 | By | No Comments

Mobile phone last-minuteThere’s been a fair bit of hubbub lately about last-minute booking on mobile and whether the model has any legs. Much of this started when HRS’ Tobias Ragge said most same-day/last-minute booking apps will disappear within the next 3 years (Tnooz has a great write-up on the kerfuffle, including responses from HotelTonight and others).

The data seems to suggest that there’s a lot of last-minute activity out there. For instance, a recent Expedia survey found that half of reservations made on mobile were for arrival within next 24 hours and 78% arrived within one month.

However, let’s be clear about this. There’s a ginormous difference between “next 24 hours” and “within one month.” Sure, booking windows have been shrinking for years and it seems unlikely they’re going to grow significantly anytime soon.

But “within one month” is miles from “last minute.”

Or ought to be.

Which begs the question: Shouldn’t mobile be about more than just last-minute?

Mobile: A Deeply Personal Device

At its core, mobile fulfills many functions. And, yes, one of those is “immediate gratification,” whether it’s looking up information, taking pictures, or flinging perturbed avian avatars at a bunch of pigs.

But many consumers see their mobile phone as a deeply personal device. At last count, some half of all smartphone users slept with their phones (see slide 74 of the presentation here—oh, and be aware the number climbs among millennials).

Part of the reason for this is how effective mobile is for keeping in touch. Obviously, mobile is key to Twitter, Facebook and texting. And, additionally, Marketing Land highlights the following data from a recent Constant Contact study:

“…among participants age 18 to 30 years, 88 percent open email on a mobile device, with more than half – 52 percent – confirming their smartphone is their primary device for opening emails.

For survey respondents age 30 to 39, 85 percent open emails on their mobile device with nearly half – 48 percent – claiming their smartphone is their primary device for email.

Of the respondents age 40 to 49, 74 percent confirmed they read emails on their devices, but only 35 percent of this age demographic said that their smartphone was their primary device for reading emails.”

So, if mobile’s at least in part a deeply personal device, why not use it to offer a deeply personal experience?

Happily, some great examples exist for how to do this.

Mobile as an Engagement Environment

While I’ve talked about this before, take a look W Hotel’s curated playlists. The hotel chain offers guests engaging content that also keeps the brand front-and-center in consumers’ ears, hands, and minds.

Similarly, check out Starbucks’ mobile app. Among its features is a very cool payment function. Cool, because it allows users to pay for their purchases or gift money to others. And made even cooler from Starbucks’ point of view as the company sees more revenue from users of its payment app than it does from comparable customers who don’t use the app. Seriously cool, when you think about it.

Another great example comes from TripIt, which helps its users keep track of all elements of their travel experience. Or Google Maps—and its recent acquisition, Waze. Or Hipmunk. Or any number of games and utilities that enhance their users’ day-to-day lives.

These folks aren’t simply addressing instant gratification.

They’re building a relationship with customers. Which is really the whole point, isn’t it?

Mobile: Both a Booking Channel and an Engagement Environment

Now none of this is to say booking doesn’t matter. That would be silly. The W Hotels music player app I mentioned earlier also lets guests find and reserve rooms—as well it should. It’s just that there’s more to engaging your guests than solely providing booking capabilities.

Even “quick booking” apps like Choice Hotels’ recent RapidBook service and Wyndham Worldwide’s app also put customer engagement first. While I suspect both companies get a fair number of last-minute bookings through their apps, it’s also important to remember who their customers are. Many roadside properties likely receive a fair amount of walk-in business (an economy brand I once worked with received roughly 60% of its bookings each day as walk-ins). In this case, mobile isn’t driving a behavior; it’s helping guests already exhibiting that behavior do what they want to do.

And, successful last-minute apps provide, at least in theory, a useful audience for truly distressed inventory. The real key for hotels is ensuring they’re using these for that segment and not giving away the farm.

TL; DR: Mobile offers a variety of options to engage customers and drive business. The key is in thinking about how your customers benefit from mobile and how you can help them accomplish their goals. Do that and bookings will follow. And not all of them last-minute.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, 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 enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including: