Wednesday May 28, 2014

How Mary Meeker’s Latest Findings May Make You Re-Imagine Commerce

Today, Mary Meeker released her highly anticipated annual “Internet Trends” presentation for 2014. All 164 slides are jam-packed with pretty much everything you need to know about the state of the Internet.

And as luck would have it, Oracle is staying ahead of these trends (but we’ll talk about that later).

There were a few surprises, some stats to solidify what you likely already know, and Meeker’s novel observations about where we are all going. What interested me the most is not only how people are engaging in their personal lives, but how they engage with brands.

As you could probably predict, Internet usage growth is slowing while tablet user and mobile data traffic growth continue their meteoric rise around the globe, with tremendous growth in underpenetrated markets like China, India, Brazil and Indonesia. Now hold those the “Internet is dead” comments. Keep in mind there’s still plenty of room to grow, and a multiscreen model is Meeker’s vision for our future. Despite 1.5x YOY growth for mobile traffic, mobile still only makes up about 23% of all traffic today. With tablet shipments easily outpacing figures for PCs even at their height (in 2007), mobile will only continue on it’s path, but won’t be everything to everyone. Mobile won’t replace every touchpoint, it’s just created our shorter attention spans and demand for simpler, more personal experiences. As Meeker points out TVs, tablets, PCs, and smartphones are used for different activities at present, but lines will blur (for example, 84% of smartphones owners use their device while watching TV).

Day-to-day activities are being re-imagining through simple, beautiful user experiences. It seems like every day I discover a new way a brand/site/app made the most mundane or mounting task enjoyable and frictionless – and I’m not alone. Meeker points out the evolution of how we do everything from how we communicate, get information, use money, meet someone, get places, order a meal, and consume media is all done through new user interfaces that make day-to-day tasks simpler. This movement has caused just about everyone’s patience for a poor UX to take a nosedive. And it’s not just the digital user experience, technology is making a lot of people’s offline lives easier, and less expensive. Today 47% of online shopping utilizes free shipping— nearly half. And Meeker predicts same day local delivery will be the “next big thing” (and you can take a guess on who will own that).

Content, Community and Commerce creates the “Internet Trifecta.” Meeker pointed out that when content, communities and commerce occur in a single experience it’s embraced by consumers, which translates to big dollars for brands. The magic happens when consumers can get inspired, research, and buy in a single experience. As the buying cycle has changed and touchpoints (Web, mobile, social, store) are no longer tied to “roles” or steps in the customer journey, brands must make all experiences (content and commerce) available in a single, adaptable experience. (We at Oracle Commerce have a lot to say on this topic – stay tuned!)

And in what Meeker calls the “biggest re-imagination of all:” consumers enabled with smartphones and sensors are creating troves of findable and sharable data, which she says is in the early stages, by growing rapidly. She notes that transparency and patterns of consumers with this hardware (FYI - there are up to 10 sensors embedded in smartphones now) has created a Big Data treasure chest to be mined to improve business and the life of the consumer. The opportunities are endless.

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