According to a Pew Internet Research study, published in 2013 and commissioned by the American Life Project, 34 percent of Americans actually utilize their cell phones to access the Internet. The rest of the world isn’t that far behind. Go anywhere, and you’re likely to see people using their mobile devices, searching the Internet for comparison shopping, coupons, or simply to access additional information to assist with their buying decisions. As this trend is apparently here to stay, the effect that mobile Internet will have on business must become a major concern for business owners who want to stay relevant … and in business.
From small businesses to major companies, everyone will begin to view the mobile Internet as one of the best and most cost-effective marketing options available today. After all, customers are turning to smartphones as navigation devices, to find restaurant and shopping options in their local area and even to download coupons before they reach the checkout counter.
This past holiday season (2013), the term “showrooming” became commonplace and was highly discussed in several news outlets. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of showrooming, the term represents consumers who visit a store to see the product they are interested in on the showroom floor, then head home to make the purchase online (which is often less expensive than simply purchasing it directly from the store visited). The practice is becoming so common that business owners are now finding ways to reach out to their customer base via the mobile web for special promotions, coupon codes that can easily be tracked or to announce new merchandise arrivals. This brings us to the next point.
Mobile Wallet Apps
Marketing experts predict that smartphone usage will increase to 1.75 billion worldwide by the end of 2014, according to eMarketer.com. While various retailers have instituted rewards programs to offer attractive promotions and incentives to their customer base, retailers are now beginning to offer mobile wallet apps that consumers can present to prove they are, indeed, a part of the loyalty program for that particular chain.
Banks are jumping on the mobile wallet trend as well, offering options for customers to deposit a check by simply signing it, taking pictures of both the front and back, then submitting the data to deposit the funds into their account. Companies like PayPal have also created opportunities for their customers to use funds directly from their account at popular brick-and-mortar chains by linking their mobile number to their account, creating an access code and providing a receipt upon checkout. This is a convenience that many time-strapped consumers have welcomed wholeheartedly.
Increasing The Use of Apps
Smartphone users have come to enjoy using various types of apps, for work and for leisure. Our increasingly mobile workplace offers a great deal of flexibility for today’s professional, but that access from a distance may cut severely into a person’s personal or family time. Still, workplace-based apps like Office 365 means an employee will have virtually no reason to miss deadlines or to be unable to access important documents at any hour of the day. The corporate board isn’t exempt, either. With a board portal solution and corporate governance software like Convene, directors can view and modify documents or attend remote board meetings using only their iPads or Android devices. Immediate access and low-cost cloud storage options will make these types of apps far more common in the workplace in 2014 and beyond.