Disruptive Mobile: The Need For Contextual Experiences

Mobile has expanded the digital experience – it’s no longer about the device, but about the context in which the device is used. Commerce opportunities travel with customers wherever they go, and they expect these exchanges to keep up and react with the same environmental changes that they are experiencing.

The Changing Landscape of Digital Interactions

Technology and the Industrial Revolution changed people to tools. Factory owners wanted to get the most value out of each individual, and if you were on the line working then you were making the factory money. This thought process extended to the traditional office environment of the 50s and 60s, where you were considered productive when you were sitting at your desk on your computer.

Despite this mind shift brought on by technology, we actually think better when we are moving. Imagine when you’re talking on the phone – do you sit still in one spot? Or do you move and walk around the room? It is actually a by-product of evolution that we are better able to absorb information and make quick decisions while moving.

Mobile devices have enabled us to move away from stationary interactions and go back to being mobile ourselves. The experience now extends beyond the device and into the surrounding environment. People are no longer required to sit at a desk looking at what’s going on in the outside world, but rather they can take that device into the outside world and expect their surroundings to shape the experience.

Consumers Expect More

It’s no longer about the actual device – it’s about what the device can do, which changes our expectations of technology and how we interact with it. Because the consumer’s device is so personal, they expect all experiences related to that device to be tailored specifically to them. In the past, consumers accepted that retailers were speaking to as many people as possible, but now they expect a personalized experience. Each email, push notification or text needs to have some kind of direct personal appeal to the consumer’s needs and wants in that mobile moment.

Mobile Disrupts Businesses, Not Consumers

Mobile is not disruptive to just the consumer – it is disruptive to businesses as well. And a mobile device itself is not actually disruptive so much as is the constant access that it provides to the Internet. A recent study showed that 71% of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience.

As a retailer, you are no longer competing with your immediate surrounding competitors – you are competing with the world, so you need to be able to anticipate these opportunities to engage, or risk losing customers to a competitor who does.

Design for Experiences

With mobile commerce, suddenly the experience is not just between the screen and the person – it is contextual. The way a consumer interacts with this technology varies greatly if they are at work, on the train, in-store or sitting at home. Retailers should look to location services for a contextual understanding of their customer’s environment which will influence the interaction.

For example: if a customer is sitting at home, display a promotion for the underwear they have been recently browsing. If they’re at work or on the train, stick with the safe bet and show a promotion for pants. On the other hand, if they are in-store looking at a shirt, send a push notification with a coupon for an in-store discount. Location services work with this changing landscape, and the increased expectations of today’s consumers to anticipate their needs – possibly before they are even aware of them themselves.

Keeping Up

Commerce is no longer a stationery business. With continuous innovations in mobile technology, consumers can now buy what they want, when they want it, wherever they are. For retailers to keep up with the disruption caused by mobile, they need to use the functionality available through mobile devices to create contextual experiences.

However, it’s not enough to piece together mobile point solutions to engage customers. Retailers need a solution that enables them to look at the customer’s experience at a holistic level. Customers don’t interact with the web channel, then the social channel and then the brick and mortar store in separate silos – a shopper views this entire journey as their overall interaction with the brand and expects a seamless experience across touchpoints. Understanding that customers’ digital interactions with your company occur within different contexts is the first step to developing personalized communication that speaks to that shopper’s needs, goals and motivations in each specific mobile moment. This results in higher conversion rates, reduced churn, and deeper customer relationships.

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