The gap between real shops (bricks-and-mortar stores) and online shopping just got a whole lot smaller with PayPal announcing their QR code shopping service in late 2012. Users of their “Window Shopping 2.0” service can scan QR codes on shop windows, billboards, posters, etc. and then instantly pay for their purchase.
On a tangent, the CEO of eBay, Inc., John Donahoe recently said, “I want my news and content when I want it and where I want it.” He then went on to say, “The same thing’s about to happen with commerce and payments. Consumers are going to be increasingly in control of how they shop and pay.”
Mobile phones and tablets are definitely blurring the lines between traditional bricks and mortar shopping and online shopping.
For some time now, shoppers have been lured into physical stores through online experiences such as email catalogue promotions or bargain coupons but the techniques (such as the QR code experience) are becoming more and more sophisticated. Online price comparison sites have also proliferated allowing the customer to find out where the cheapest product exists. That customer might then either buy online or, if the business is local, do a bricks-and-mortar purchase. This is an example where customers are using the Internet to research an item before they purchase.
What hasn’t changed in ecommerce is the need to keep re-inventing your business. You simply cannot ‘set-and-forget’. eBay is a good example to look at. Back in 2008, it was perceived by the market to be in trouble despite still having healthy earnings but declining growth. That was when Donahoe took over and he’s been making the bottom line look more attractive ever since. One of the big changes for eBay is their heavy investment in mobile technologies. Donahoe said that “eBay’s apps have been downloaded more than 100 million times.” Donahoe’s view is that we are going to see more changes in the way consumers shop in the next three years than what we’ve seen in the last 20.
These movements are real and tangible and they make it clear that in order to compete in the world of ecommerce, businesses must consider how these new practices might be used and where it makes sense, adopt them. Questions to consider might include: