Travel Retail and M-Commerce
M-Commerce – What’s all the hype?
M-Commerce and Digital innovation are the two most widely debated topics in travel retail.
“To App or Not to App?” seems to be the question, but those most vocal in the conversation are the app developers who have the most to gain by evangelizing the perceived necessity of costly mobile applications. The belief that applications are a requisite for a successful m-commerce strategy were once true but today, in 2016, is becoming less and less substantiated. Technology has advanced and the proclamation that mobile applications are a necessity to drive m-commerce is now a mere myth.
Just two years ago at the Trinity Forum in Taipei, I presented a session titled “WTF – What is the Future of Disruption in Travel?“. I gave a framework for how omnichannel engagement could work, and also explained how the iWatch would change the game. It was indeed the week the week of Apple’s latest innovative release and was amplified by the installations of Beacon technology at the Macy’s department stores in NYC just in time for Christmas shopping. High Street and mainstream retail had entered the proximity marketing phase.
Travel retail was advised to follow to remain competitive, for reasons far beyond instore price comparison as the key driver. Consumers don’t want an “Uber of Airports” or Travel Retail, they want personalisation and content that is contextually relevant to them – the right message, at the right time, when they are in the right place to take the desired next step.
Because Apple owned the wearable device and benefitted from any Itunes purchases, the company wanted to own the commercial opportunity that m-commerce via an application would generate. Google decided to up the stakes and in the past twenty-four months, has changed the game.
In just two years, Google has challenged the application model with their release of Eddystone-UID, Eddystone-URL and Eddystone-TLM frameworks which in layman’s terms, enable beacons to broadcast messages to receptive mobile devices, without the presence of an application using Google Chrome (in every mobile smart device) as the conduit or app. For those whom an app isn’t feasible, the playing field has now been leveled. A BI Intelligence report predicted that beacons will directly influence more than $44B USD in retail sales in 2016.
Are you ready for the future? If you have not embraced m-commerce and iBeacon use cases, it is time to rethink your digital strategy.
A key consideration that has a massive impact on the travel retail marketplace is the Chinese traveler, who ironically does not have the same exposure or access to the two largest players in the mobile application playground – Apple and Google. With bans on mainland China to Itunes, Google, and Facebook, China has developed bespoke social tools and platforms. They are very sophisticated and evolving at a rapid pace. Chinese outbound tourism shows no sign of slowing down.
On January 19, 2016, Asia’s most successful independent brokerage and investment group CLSA Limited (CLSA), released a report titled “2016 Chinese Tourists: Expanding Cultural Horizons”. While the report gave topline speculation on which stocks would improve as a result of Chinese tourism, it gave key insights into the drivers of the Chinese outbound travel boom, as well as sectors whom would directly benefit from this multi-decade theme.
CLSA gave a bullish opinion on the Chinese tourist theme and maintained its long-standing forecast of 200 million Chinese overseas trips by 2020. CLSA predicts that travel to top areas including the USA, France, the Maldives and Australia will grow on average by 16%. Low-cost carriers, access to visas and fewer travel restrictions and wanderlust will remain the key drivers underpinning the exponential Chinese outbound tourism growth narrative. So, the Chinese travelers, who are not linked to Itunes and Google are going to continue to be the biggest single group of travelers for at least the next three years.
And what is the hottest application on their smartphones? WeChat!
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