One-click commerce: the mall-buster

Gary Schwartz of Impact Mobile and author of "The Impulse Economy" shares his thoughts about how mobile devices are changing shopping.
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By Gary Schwartz

I have a premonition that shopping is changing, with mobile as the driver.

History of the cloud

On Nov. 28, 2005, Shop.org started discussing an online phenomenon following Thanksgiving shopping that it coined Cyber Monday: after fighting for bargains in the aisles, shoppers starting surfing the web for remnant deals.

However, over the past year, Matt Shay and his team at the National Retail Federation should have realized that the online shopping cloud (which was politely situated on a separate day with separate deals for online shoppers) is now disruptively moving into our primetime shopping calendar.

Most mobile shopping on Black Friday still tends to be mobile-marketing focused: consumers compare prices with Amazon Price Check, ShopSavvy or eBay’s RedLaser app, while show-to-save mobile couponing drives impulse visits to retail stores. This holiday season Amazon has launched a “pro-consumer” promotion that offers shoppers five percent off cloud purchases if they price checked using Amazon’s APP while in the physical store.

 

Retailers are in a furor. However, presently there are only a few shoppers purchasing on their phone in-store. These shopping apps and mobile web services are great for hardcore price hunters but the small-screen experience is not optimal. The mobile phone may help the shopper better navigate high-value items such as shoes or electronics in their local mall and steer the shopper to a purchase, but it may also rudely interrupt an in-aisle purchase.

If Price Check shows a better deal online, many folk may close their phone and choose to buy the item that evening via the web, on a large screen in the comfort of their home.

This is all about to change. There is a new breed of shopping disruption entering the market.

Apple’s iPad has hybridized:

• mobile & fixed internet

• small screen & large screen

• impulse & thoughtful shopping

Kindle Fire: the mall buster

The new commerce-tablet is a mall buster. The iPad allows for an elegant, portable internet experience, while Apple’s focus continues to be the app economy and digital checkout on iTunes.

Other tablets have entered the market on Apple’s terms and had mixed results . . . until the Amazon Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire tablet is all about one-click commerce. The device is optimized for in-store, in-mall deal hunting, price comparison and, most importantly, one-click checkout.

Amazon has always been a commerce disrupter. In 2007, we saw the first Kindle, the harbinger of a new power game and more importantly a new relationship with the mobile consumer. The Kindle became the new storefront, further threatening the first market disrupter, Barnes & Noble. In order to promote its Kindle device, Amazon sold electronic books below wholesale prices. A tactical loss. Owning the commerce platform was the ultimate reward for Amazon.

Borders bookstore went out of business. Barnes & Noble opened coffee shops and began selling household furniture. Now that it’s battled and beat the bookstore, Amazon is taking on the entire mall.

The Kindle Fire (which combines book commerce with the immersive Kindle experience) is the final commerce frontier. Amazon is so confident in the commerce they’ll generate in the mall that they are selling the unit at a loss ($199, while the unit cost is $210) The seven-inch black slab fits neatly in your jacket pocket, ready to interrupt path to purchase.

The first Kindle Fire is Wi-Fi bound but rumour has it there will be a 4G version, as well as Kindle Phone in the cards for late 2012.

Amazon’s One-Click commerce, along with Visa’s V.me service, Billing Revolution’s Single-Click and a flood of cloud commerce options, will enter the Canadian market sometime in 2012.

What does this mean to the new Canadian Black Friday tradition?

It means that shoppers on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 may move from comparison price hunting in the mall to disruptive purchasing in the cloud. No longer are Cyber Monday and Black Friday neatly separated: the cloud is in the mall to stay.

Dark clouds ahead

Over 5,000 store closings are expected in North America in 2012, according to consulting firm Excess Space Retail Services. That’s up nearly 40% from 2011 (from Retailtrafficmag.com).

Many will be due to continuing shopper malaise but as in-mall cloud shopping accelerates, many stores in the apparel and electronics vertical will need to reinvent themselves. They need to focus on breaking down the channel barriers between their online presence and the physical store. Tackling “cross-channel disconnect” will be key to survival.

They will need to focus on the non-Black Friday days – all 364 of them – and work to build a loyal, one-to-one relationship with shoppers using their phones to bridge the store experience with their cloud experience.

Content curation, sensory experience, customer service and love are all the store has. It will not win on price alone.

Gary Schwartz is president/CEO at mobile marketing company Impact Mobile and author of the newly released book “The Impulse Economy.”