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Irritation or acceptance -- what will it be?

As featured on the DisruptiveViews blog

Whilst the telecom industry seems to be spending and inordinate amount of time and money coming to grips with the digital revolution it is dwarfed by the issues being faced by other sectors no less affected.

Retailers with traditional bricks and mortar outlets have had to rethink their whole strategy with the onslaught of online stores that have popped up in their thousands. They have realized that even whilst customers enjoy the convenience and savings of shopping online nothing can take away the experience of seeing, touching and feeling the merchandise.

It seems that customers even go to the extent of visiting stores to decide on which goods they want to purchase and doing price comparisons then going home and ordering online. Sharp retailers have picked up on this and have concentrated their efforts on improving the in-store experience and retraining staff to emphasize the benefits and cost savings of buying then and there.

To combat the Christmas online purge, English high street retailers offered a ‘click and collect’ service that allowed customers to buy online and pick up the goods from the store via dedicated, well-manned counters. The benefits to the customer include not having to wait for home delivery, saving on the cost of delivery, getting faster service and still having some retail therapy to get them out of the house. Oh, and they tend to buy something else as they pass through the stores!

US retailer, Nordstrom, acquired Trunk Club, a service for men that matches shoppers with in-store stylists and sends hand-selected clothing to the consumer’s home. Last year, Home Depot tried a similar idea with the launch of a Christmas tree delivery service in New York City.

Those same retailers are also looking at ways to reduce costs so they can compete equitably with prices the low-cost online providers offer due to their lower cost structures. Like their telecom compatriots, they are finding there is a lot of ‘fat’ built up over the years that needs to be ‘burnt off’ that does not necessarily mean firing staff.

But it is the massive growth in mobile phone activity that is causing the most angst to all sectors and those in marketing and advertising are having to scramble to reinvent the way they promote their customer’s brands and products.

As Monday Note pointed out for 2015, “the vast majority of media will see more than 50% of their traffic coming from mobile devices (Facebook is way ahead with 65%). We might see a new breed of mobile-only quality media, but the ecosystem still has to come up with ad formats that don’t irritate audiences, and adjusting revenue streams won’t be easy.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Having to adjust they way traditional business has been done for decades because of technology that the masses have adopted. And even though telecom operators have been largely instrumental in the success of mobile phone penetration they, too, have underestimated the social and business effect it has created.

Even with 85% of the world population living within range of a mobile network tower (including 2G connectivity), 4.3 billion people are still not connected to the web. By the time they are, almost all commercial activity around retail, social, business, B2B, C2C and even IoT will be mobile based and that will place great pressure on those tasked with attracting an audience.

Advertising will take on a whole new perspective. At the moment it is fumbling its way through ads on social networks and tags on videos but it will have to get a lot more radical if it is going to generate the traffic those old TV ads, glossy magazine inserts and full page newspaper spreads used to get.

This is likely to be the next big area of disruption. Getting the right message to different customer sectors will be a science. Getting the mix right between intrusion and acceptance will be an art!