Not much doubt must have remained among the 600 or-so guests of the eCOMMTL about the prediction that mobile phones and tablets are the point of sales of the future. Neither that social media is the ultimate way to get in contact with and know more about your customers. But will your business grow - or survive - just because of a new and highly competitive sales channel? Has the future really become a reality in Quebec?

Should you have missed this year’s edition of Quebec’s number one eCommerce event,

here’s all you need to know..

Highlights.

Opening the conference’s ‘business’ track, Paul Lafortune shared valuable insights into loyalty management programs and their different flavours. While the actual loyalty-cards-per-capita ratio differs from region to region, the global trend is certainly pointing upward (9 programs per individual and growing), and apps that allow you to handle dozens of such cards will only reinforce that trend. A no-brainer? Hardly. With more and more companies jumping on the train and people becoming ‘loyal’ with dozens of companies, competition will force each player to measure exactly the effectiveness of their program. If it is true that many companies still struggle to identify their most valuable customers, some doubt arises whether or not this is already standard.

Presenting very impressive figures about the size and growth - or should we say explosion - of the B2C markets in the Asian hemisphere, Stéphane Prud'homme continued the track by allowing us a glimpse into a potential future scenario of a super-mobile consumer-goods market. Based on omnipresent internet connectivity, an extremely high adoption of mobility and emerging middle-classes, supply follows demand and creates not only a multitude of new business models, but indeed also creates massive, tangible online/mobile sale volumes comparable to the GDP of a developed country. While Canadian internet price levels will likely prevent the internet from becoming such an omnipresent, fluid and quasi-free commodity for the foreseeable future, these studies provide an excellent future scenario for your business.

Marie-Hélène Cloutier and Camille Grange subsequently shed some academic light on the skillsets necessary for a successful digital workforce in the ‘savoir’ series, enlightening us about the right blend of specialisation and diversification. And if you want to know which advertising techniques work best on a website, we recommend taking a look at a study presented by Stéphanie Le Rouzic, part of the ‘vision’ track.

Last but not least, Jean-Marc De Jonghe presented the digital restart of LaPresse+. Highlighting the change-management side of the transformation from a print-media to a mobile content provider, probably the most important point to be retained is the dramatically reduced ‘dwell-time’ of mobile users; starting from comfortable minutes if not hours on weekends with the paper version, mobiles users stay just a few seconds on your app. Obviously known content consumption models don’t work in this accelerated scenario, but if you can go as far as removing the back button will be yours to decide.

The future is all bright.

No doubt, the paradigm-shifts caused by a society becoming digital and mobile at the same time certainly do create a lot of new opportunities. The general message seems to be that companies without a mobile sales channel and without a social network interface are more or less doomed. And indeed there are strong indications that those without get behind, for the simple reason that they simply won’t get recognised anymore in all the digital noise created by everyone else, talking about the B2C market.

Lots of unfortunate examples prove that it’s not necessarily the better product that gets sold, but rather the one that is conveniently available at the right moment and does the job. Maybe it is not just a coincidence that it was an Asian electronics company that once came up with a famous claim that now seems more current than ever before: make yourself heard!

And indeed there is an abundance of solutions to make yourself heard. But there is also a price tag attached to those solutions, and what we missed is the critical point of view that making yourself heard is not enough. How do mobile customers compare to traditional ones? What’s the cost of a new mobile customer and how does that number compare to his average purchases? Are your logistics ready? Fortunately, dashboards, or reports and analytics can help you find answers to these quetions!

Where there is light ...

From a dry, macro-economic point of view, this is probably an accelerated format of an ‘industrial revolution’. Buying behaviours of and interaction schemes with customers are changing and marketing has to adapt.

What’s not so new is that the forces of competition will quickly eradicate the advantages of the new. Take Apple's iStore: no question it was a game changer, but others followed and will follow. And so are more and more companies becoming ‘mobile’. And they will cut into the comfortable margins of the first and second wave of adopters, until what was once a comparably simple source of revenues becomes just another market place where few competitive advantages remain.

In other words: you’d better be quick, and if you’re not quick, be smart.

Yours to decide where we’re at in Quebec 2014!

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