Along with an earnest focus on resolutions, January is also the month when experts across industries polish up their predictions for what the year ahead will look like and what trends we’re likely to see taking shape. Of course, some will hit the nail on the head and some will be out in left field. We at Mobify have done our best to parse which predictions will matter most for retailers and their mobile strategies in the coming months. Here are our picks for trends that are likely to shape mobile shopping in 2015.
Mobile Payments Will Gain Traction
Michael Fauscette at Seeking Alpha suggests this will be year of the digital wallet. He argues that mobile payments will reach a tipping point in 2015, spurred in part by security concerns prompted by the rash of data hacks over the last year and the early popularity of Apple Pay. As retailers strive to provide a simpler but more personalized mobile shopping experience, integrating mobile payment options becomes a key part of that equation. This perspective is supported by findings from KPMG that one in five retailers is already making mobile payment processing a feature of their consumer offering. Business Insider is also bullish about the growth of mobile payment options in 2015, predicting a wave of new startups will emerge in the mobile payment space and declaring that the coming ubiquity of mobile payments will make it easier for small businesses to take advantage of this tech.
Digital Diets and Detoxes Will Become More Popular
Whether it’s studies on the stress inducing properties of email overload or probing pieces on how FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) plays upon our psyches, there’s no lack of data and opinions on how our tech habits affect our mental and physical well being. In that spirit, The Telegraph boldly predicts that 2015 will be the year that digital detoxes become an integral aspect of daily life and reshape our relationship to our devices. Communications firm Hotwire agrees, dubbing the coming year the “era of the neo-luddite” and even speculating about the emergence of new tech that helps us to disconnect from our old tech.
For retailers, this means as technology is becoming more immediate and integrated into the shopping experience (push notifications and beacons, for example), consumers are simultaneously likely to become more discerning about their brand interactions. Smart brands understand this requires being more strategic about how they connect with customers vs. simply trying harder to get their attention. It’s not about encouraging your target market to cheat on their digital diet, but creating an offering that fits with their new health-conscious tech lifestyle.
Measuring Engagement Will Get More Granular
We’re borrowing this idea from digital media platforms. Writing for Neiman Labs, Kawandeep Virdee declares that attention minutes will take over from pageviews in 2015 as a means of measuring the success of digital content. The concept of attention minutes is one floated by Upworthy back in February 2014. The media site plans to track everything from whether a video is actively playing in a video player to a user’s mouse or trackpad movements to which browser tab a user currently has open to measure how engaged visitors are with Upworthy’s content.
What do attention minutes mean for retailers? If attention minutes as a metric catches on, it offers a more granular and comprehensive means of understanding how well you’re reaching customers and holding their interest. If you can measure the depth of interaction a potential customer has with your mobile content, you can become more strategic about determining how to tweak it to maximize conversions.
The Effect of Wearables (and Beacons) Will Remain TBD
For all the hype about wearable devices and the revolutionary retail potential of beacons, there just isn’t enough information or compelling use cases to predict how the technologies will concretely affect mobile shopping in 2015. As Gigaom notes, there is substantial survey data to indicate that consumers are at best lukewarm on beacons and at worst, roundly uninterested in being tracked via smartphone while they shop. Retailer experimentation with beacons will likely continue in 2015, but, as Re/Code writes, the idea that beacons are a solution in search of a problem will also persist. Look for other brands to experiment with beacons like McDonald’s has, but expect consumer sentiment to drive experimentation on an industry by industry basis.
With the Apple Watch scheduled for release in 2015, wearable devices are set to hit the mainstream in a big way, but what are the ramifications for the retail industry? Will smartwatches become as ubiquitous as smartphones or does Apple have a niche product on its hands a la Google Glass? The answer remains to be seen. TIME’s Tim Bajarin goes as far as to call it “folly” to try to predict the device’s success based on the details currently available about its functionality.
Smart retailers, however, aren’t sitting idle or letting ambiguity over tech adoption keep them from planning for the future. They already have beacons and wearable devices on their roadmaps and are well on their way to being able to integrate both into their mobile strategy in a scalable way based on how 2015 unfolds. The same goes for designers, who are already trying to crack the code on what consumers will be seeking in Apple Watch apps.
Being Mobile Will No Longer Be Enough
CNBC predicts that 2015 will be the year that retailers understand doing mobile right matters more than doing it first or doing it fast. Citing Best Buy’s Black Friday website crash, the experts they surveyed agree that retailers are increasingly getting the message that their fancy bells and whistles can’t make up for a poorly designed, unstable or difficult to navigate mobile site. ReadWrite shares this sentiment, boldly proclaiming that going all in on mobile this year and deeply understanding the different experiences consumers expect on mobile vs. desktop should be a priority for retailers that want to be competitive in their space. Mobile-first strategies are what will separate leading brands from the rest of the pack.