September 04, 2014

Shifting To Mobile

I'm seeing trends that look an awful lot like 2002, folks.

Back then, catalog shoppers were moving into e-commerce. And when you analyzed e-commerce buyers, they were not moving back to catalogs. Catalogers completely misinterpreted this dynamic as a sign that the catalog "caused" the shift to e-commerce - catalogers doubled-down and built the entire digital infrastructure to support catalogs. Big mistake. Today, catalogers are trapped with a 60+ year old customer base, calling me all the time, wondering how to appeal to a 37 year old shopper.

E-commerce gurus are about to go through the same dynamic. I can see it, because I have the measurement tools to diagnose it, and because I lived through it 10-15 years ago. E-commerce gurus cannot see it, because they have every incentive to think that mobile is an extension of e-commerce.

Mobile is not an extension of e-commerce. Mobile is different.

When I analyze the numbers, I see two trends.

  1. The loyal e-commerce shopper is slowly migrating to mobile.
  2. The mobile shopper may go back to e-commerce, or may not go back.
The second point is really important - because when you run simulations out over the next five years (you e-commerce folks are running five-year simulations, right?), you can see that the business shifts away from e-commerce, to mobile.

You can interpret this trend two ways.
  1. Desktop/Laptop/E-Commerce is the "core" of the business, mobile spins off of it, but is supported by Desktop/Laptop/E-Commerce.
  2. Mobile is different, and should be allowed to grow and thrive.
I'm asking you to interpret it via #2.

I know you're likely to interpret it via #1.

#1 sends you down the path of the cataloger.

#2 sends you into the future.

If your customer is shifting to mobile, choose the future.