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Digital Advantage: Mobile continues its march

Jason Holmes

By Jason Holmes
June 18, 2014 at 1:18 a.m.
Updated June 19, 2014 at 1:19 a.m.


When will big-box stores like Best Buy stop selling desktop computers? Sometime in the next three years - that's my prediction anyway.

Now don't misinterpret, desktops will still be available for special order, primarily used for offices and store point-of-sale systems, but consumers are all but done with them already.

According to Gartner, global PC shipments fell 10 percent in 2013 with the trend speeding up in 2014. Meanwhile, tablet and smartphone sales have continued to grow, outpacing all PC sales, including laptops.

However, for you as a marketer, usage is a more important trend. Are consumers using their smartphones and tablets to shop? According to ComScore, they are. Eighty percent of smartphone owners use their device for shopping, and mobile adoption rates are eight times faster than web adoption rates in the 1990s and early 2000s. Smartphone and tablet usage will overtake desktop and laptop usage this year.

This migration to mobile is a huge cultural shift, and it's only speeding up. The local business owners I speak with are usually of one of two minds:

  1. This is a huge opportunity. I want to be where my customers and the next generation of customers are.
  2. I hate computers and the Internet. I can't compete with "the Internet," so I'm not going to try.

Business owners in the first group certainly hope that their local competitors think like group No. 2. When you see market trends as opportunities rather than just as threats, you can generally capitalize on expected changes.

One interesting way the local retailer fights back and actually capitalizes on mobile and the Internet as a whole is by having a professional Web presence that ranks well for terms, products and services that consumers are shopping for. This can lead to what's called "reverse showrooming."

Many of you are familiar with "showrooming" even if you aren't aware of the term. If you own or manage a brick-and-mortar store, you've seen consumers look over your products while comparing price and availability with online retailers on their phones. A staggering 46 percent of consumers are "showroomers." Sometimes, the consumer buys the product or services from you, and sometimes, they go elsewhere.

What you don't see are the consumers that "reverse showroom." That is, use their mobile device to shop for a product or service online and then purchase offline. It may surprise you, but 69 percent of American consumers are "reverse showroomers."

However, without a website that is responsive and works properly on all mobile devices, a social media plan and a digital marketing presence that reaches consumers where they live and shop, you're guaranteed not to participate in the "reverse showrooming" phenomena. Businesses in group one are already there.

The Internet has been a disruptive force over the past two decades. New business models like search engines and social networks have emerged while other business models like traditional media and home telephone service have been challenged. Mobile devices are simply the next evolution in the cultural shift away from being tethered.

Jason Holmes is the general manager of Advocate Digital Media, a sister company to The Victoria Advocate that focuses on digital marketing. He welcomes questions and column ideas at jtholmes@advocatedigital.com.

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