Can Facebook and Twitter accelerate retail m-commerce markets?
Mobile and web channels are the main entry points to retail digital transformation across any market.
According to a recent report published by Transparency Market Research, the mobile-apps segment held a share of about 19 percent in terms of revenue in 2013 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 30.9 percent between 2014 and 2020. Access through websites is still the dominant channel but the mobile channel is rapidly growing.
A few factors are helping mobile access speed up the retail digital transformation:
- Increasing penetration of mobile devices across the planet for online and offline retailing
- Increased numbers of mobile apps for shopping
- Improving digital infrastructures for trading, logistics and supply
- The exponential explosion of customer data,
- Increasing use (or intention to use) of big data analytics
One burning question, however, is how will all these supporting factors help to fuel this new digital retail business? Don't we need a global sustainable platform with multiple millions of consumers and followers, a global scalable platform that can nurture, enhance, support, maintain and importantly to take advantage of these growth factors? Invariably, digital transformations of any scale would end up with some form of enabling or realizing consumer needs such as answering their product queries, and ultimately the end-point is to close each user's conversations or chats with a sale, most likely via some form of mobile payment whether it's in-app, in-car or perhaps, in-store.
The consumer electronics and appliances product sector holds the largest share of about 37 percent of the total digital transformation market in terms of 2013 revenues.
As a start, Facebook and IBM are collaborating to enable retailers to better target advertising to Facebook users.
What is this collaboration about? These two companies have announced they are teaming to enhance Facebook's ad targeting technology with IBM's own suite of analytics tools and services. When rich real-time retail data (such as users' purchase history, shopping items viewed, items deposited into or removed from the shoppers' baskets) are augmented with Facebook's customer data via chats, the two companies envisage to create for their customers more finely personalized marketing campaigns.
What if retailers could start to place individualized "Just-For-Me" ads directly into your Facebook's feeds?
What if Facebook could open a new chat window to show you the retailer's item, which was cleverly identified while you are chatting with your friends or retailers, and then subtly placing a "Buy-Now" button there?
These sorts of new integrations with retail platforms and using Facebook's extensive customer-data with predictive analytical tools that can trigger Next-Best-Action or Next-Best-Offer campaigns could potentially help to more accurately and profitably target any market segment.
With Facebook's dominant position in social media, it may be flying in the right direction to integrate its mobile platform with any retailers' online marketing strategy. How will online retailers like Amazon or eBay respond?
In addition, we must not discount some of Twitter's acquisitions such as ZipDial and CardSpring. Could Twitter be thinking of some other ways to engage their users to somehow expand or even accelerate the retail businesses of their partners or superstar users?
With businesses demanding better modes of individualized ad deliveries with flexible and frictionless payments on mobile apps, and to satisfy consumers' instant demand for any product information or media, be it for global sports goods (Adidas, Nike), global sports fan clubs (Real Madrid FC), retailers (Amazon, Wal-Mart, Alibaba), or even financial services, we may be seeing some of the world's greatest digital transformation wars of our times. Who will win this transformation?
Alex Hum Alex is a partner from an international technology consultancy firm. He consults global clients to create and deliver Enterprise and Solution Architectures with rapid consumerizatons of information through innovative technologies.