SoLoMo is not just one of the most entertaining buzzwords to say that has emerged in the last year, but it is also the topic of a recent blog post at Shop.org. The post discusses data and topics Forrester Research’s Melissa Parrish presented at a recent workshop. While there’s some interesting information about mobile for retailers, the conclusion it comes to on the local aspect of SoLoMo e-commerce is a little disheartening, and I would say that we can do better than that.
Findings on SoLoMo Consumers
First, let’s look at the good stuff retailers should know when working on their social, local, mobile commerce plan.
To date, most SoLoMo activities for retailers have focused on the “check-in.” While some brands have created geolocation-based apps, only about 5% of online US users with mobile phones use them. While that 5% is a very socially active group and is twice as likely to share product information, reviews and offers with friends, they are mostly male. So they are a small audience that might not fit in many retailers’ core demographic.
Additionally, Forrester has identified a new group of consumers: “the always addressable customer.” These consumers own and use at least three connected devices, and go online several times a day from several different locations . Always addressable customers tend to be highly educated, high earners who are very social and use technology as a tool.
A Closer Look at Local E-Commerce
Based on these findings, the post questions what local means for selling goods online, and suggests focusing on giving consumers access to the brand rather than physical location. “So where does ‘local’ fit in to this data? For a retailer, the ‘Lo’ part of SoLoMo is simply that wherever your customer goes, you must be there. ‘Don’t think technology first – think about what your customer needs.’”
While I agree you need consumers to be able to reach your brand, product information and make a purchase wherever, whenever and however they want in a seamless and integrated manner, local content is an essential part of the equation that this blog post completely overlooks.
Similar to Forrester’s always addressable customer, eMarketer presents the smartphone class, and it describes its members as people who “snack” on their smartphones, consuming bits of content throughout the day. This gives retailers multiple potential touchpoints, but of course, there is a lot of noise retailers have to break through.
Offering localized content, like products the consumer can order with inexpensive delivery and shorter delivery times, creates a more engaging experience between your customers and your brand. And with big-ticket items, like furniture, tying into the closest store where the customer can go see and feel the item could be the difference in making or losing a sale.
Retailers that use mobile technology to be able to both engage consumers wherever they are and add a localized layer to drive customers in store will win. Sometimes even highly connected customers want to interact with real people. Being able to remind customers where you are (and how close that may be) when they feel they need you gives you the ultimate edge.
We at Blueport Commerce help our clients offer a local shopping experience for their customers regardless of the device. We tie right into our clients’ systems and have the same up to the minute inventory and product information the stores have, helping to create the omnichannel, seamless presence consumers now demand.