The mobile paradoxon – how merchants lose their turnover

I visited some of the German ecommerce trade fairs that take place every year. Lately I spoke on the Meet Magento 2014 in Leipzig about the impact of mobile commerce on ecommerce and commerce in general. You can find my slides an slideshare (in German).

I was amazed by the feedback from the session and talked the whole day to merchants and developers about the future of commerce. And everyone agreed more or less to my opinion, that mobile (smartphone and tablets) are just the beginning.

The really interesting part is that most online merchants are still in what I charted as the past. Most shops are built for desktop computers only. Some try to catch up and optimize for smartphones, even less optimize for tablets. And honestly I don’t get it because every merchant I talked to in the last 12 months has already 20% (or more) visitors coming in via mobile devices. But still the merchants are pretty slow in adopting and optimizing. Imagine you have a brick and mortar store. The situation is like you don’t allow every fifth customer to come inside your store for shopping.

The thing is that these (not optimized) shops are losing turnover right now, since the conversion rate is much lower (in most cases factor 8 to 10 lower!). The paradox for me is that everyone is agreeing that mobile is just the start for more innovations to come, but most of the shops are still not even in the world of today, but in yesterday’s shopping world. So we live in a world where nearly everyone sees the future, but still is too slow in getting up to date. The nice infographic by ricssoftware shows that the customer is already in the new world. Always on, always connected.

I guess for the merchants this challenge is really big. And with the actual adoption rate of mobile optimization (to get todays shopping habits right) the question arises who will be able to stay in competition in the long run. Apart from bigger brands that have the unique advantage of selling their own products directly to customers, all other merchants with a more generic product lineup need to switch their innovation speed. The customer of today is pretty unloyal. If a shop can not be used as they expect it on their devices, they will switch to shops that can. And another customer is lost.

And the connection between offline and online is the next challenge for merchants with physical stores. In the ecommerce sphere I feel that a lot of merchants see innovation as a danger, because they have to keep the pace with the competition. But in reality innovation can be the big chance to stand out and be better than the competition. The reluctance to optimize seems to be a mixture of neglecting the problem (or simply not recognizing it at all) and the costs anticipated/connected with the process of going mobile.

Old style ecommerce – desktop only – was here for nearly 20 years. Mobile commerce is around for just 6 years. And innovations keep coming. Merchants have to embrace innovation as a core strategic element and not just something that has to be done. The future of commerce is getting more complex at higher speed. The big question for every merchant is: are you prepared for this?

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