Last week my partner Russ Jones and I were exploring some of new ideas in the mobile payments space when we came across the notion of the “Commerce Context” – defined as when you and I, as consumers, are in an environment (a context) that’s enabled for commerce.
The last fifteen years of the eCommerce evolution on the web (and, indeed, the somewhat earlier introduction of mail order/telephone order commerce) enabled the expansion of our personal Commerce Contexts from just shopping at local stores face-to-face to being able to shop remotely.
Our Commerce Context was significantly enlarged by the evolution of the Internet and web technologies. From any place where we had a computer and an Internet connection we could shop for essentially anything from almost anywhere online.
One of the most interesting aspects of the evolution of smart phones over the last three years (led by the iPhone and its amazing Safari/Webkit-based browser) has been the expansion of our personal Commerce Contexts beyond traditional desktop computing environments.
Today, with our smart phones in hand, suddenly we now have 24×7 personal Commerce Contexts. We’re able to search, browse, find and buy almost anything we’d ever need from a tiny device we hold in our hands – somewhat incredibly with no wires. We can make restaurant reservations, buy from eBay or Amazon.com, etc. Almost anywhere, almost anytime.
With the latest version of Apple’s iPhone app, we can make Genius Bar appointments at nearby stores from our handsets and check-in locally when we get there, etc. So, this context isn’t just for purchasing – it’s also for customer service and support.
What does this significantly expanded Commerce Context mean for the key stakeholders in consumer payments?
- For merchants – obviously, it begins with being enabled for smart phone shopping experiences – including making shopping as quick and easy as possible with smart phone applications that step above the basic browser. I can’t be bothered to enter my payment credentials – so help me – if you want my repeat business – by helping me avoid all of that data entry nonsense.
- For card issuers – it begins with embracing the mobile lifestyle and advocating it to cardholders. This goes a step beyond simply supporting mobile customer service – it includes educating and encouraging their cardholders to shop from their phones. Remember the “Pepsi Generation” – all about the lifestyle experience, not about the product? Similarly, mobile-savvy issuers will embrace the “Mobile Generation” from a lifestyle perspective – supported, of course, with products and services that fulfill it.
- Finally, for consumers – simply taking advantage of these capabilities!
What are your thoughts on this notion of an expanded Commerce Context? How is it affecting you personally? As a merchant? As a card issuer?