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Forrester exec: Mobile changes how consumers search

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December 5, 2012

NEW YORK – A Forrester Research executive at the Think Commerce Summit said media companies can leverage the built-in features of mobile devices such as swiping to connect content to commerce.

During the keynote presentation, a Forrester Research analyst presented data from the report “Using ecommerce to Monetize Digital Content in The Media Industry.” The session used the report, which interviewed executives at media companies about their digital initiatives, to address some of the challenges that media brands face in the commerce space.

“We see massive changes in the way that people discover products, and a large percentage of it does happen on things like the mobile phone and tablets,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, New York-based principal analyst at Forrester Research.

“When we look at where these devices are used, they are used in a car, they are used in the bedroom,” she said.

“These are places where I would describe as being able to capture at best your continuous partial attention, and as a result that is why visual images and the opportunity to sell with pictures is so important.”

Mobile opportunity
Given that consumers spend more time on their handsets to shop, mobile presents a huge opportunity to media companies to tie their content to commerce.

Specific mobile-only features play a big role in how media companies develop commerce efforts.

For instance, Gilt Taste uses its iPad app to let consumers swipe a page without touching the device, when they are likely to have messy fingers.

Online shopping has traditionally been used by consumers who have a specific brand or product in mind.

Nowadays, consumers expect to be able to shop from multiple companies on different platforms, which has broad implications for media companies.

Marketplaces also play a big role in how consumers discover and buy products.

“Marketplaces are a big deal because it is the opportunity to sell products that you don’t own,” Ms. Mulpuru said.

Monetization models on the other hand have been difficult for media companies.

The report found that 62 percent of media companies believe that in order to be a leader in the digital space, they need to rethink the ways that they engage with their audiences.

Digital commerce is a priority for many to drive loyalty and revenue. However, only a handful of companies have tied retail and commerce into their sites.

In particular, social media sites are carving a path for media brands looking to drive commerce. However, not all sites are created equal.

For instance, findings show that consumers are more apt to trust Pinterest over Facebook for discovering new products.

Mobile uptick
The Forrester report also found that as media companies have relied on digital more, paid subscriptions, market share and audiences have grown.

In fact, more than 50 percent of the media companies surveyed in the study said that mobile and Web have positively affected paid subscriptions.

Additionally, 65 percent reported an increase in overall reach, and 60 percent increased their overall advertising revenues.

Furthermore, 35 percent of the companies surveyed in the study said that a print and digital subscriber was seen as more valuable for the media organization.

According to the report, an enhanced digital channel cuts down the number of touch points for consumers.

Web features such as check-out, price transparency and shipping and payment options are important in order for media companies to compete with online retailers.

Additionally, focusing on context is key for media companies to succeed in digital commerce.

However, having a sizable budget that is comparable to an online retailer is also necessary, which is a challenge.

One thing that media companies do have going for them with commerce is loyalty. Publishers in particular are often able to lock users into subscriptions that keep consumers in a brand’s franchise for a substantial amount of time.

When it comes to daily deals what sets mobile apart is the urgency of the devices, per Ms. Mulpuru.

“What the daily deal space is about is shifting wallet share away from another destination to a given, particular destination, and a large part of the way that those companies manage to do that is through the urgency and scarcity of the goods that they have,” Ms. Mulpuru said.

“So that is why when we look at mobile commerce figures, a significant sector is in daily deals,” she said.

“Daily deals are as big as they are in this world — in mobile commerce — because of that urgency, and the ability to easily complete that transaction.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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