All posts by Joe Chengery

Observations from Black Friday, including an in-store fee!

Hope you’re enjoying Black Friday and have gotten some amazing deals if you’re shopping (whether it’s in-store, online, or both)!

In my last post yesterday, I mentioned a retailer that is still charging an in-store fee, and why it probably is hindering business.  (At least, that’s what I originally thought until looking into it a bit further).  The retailer is Michaels, the specialty arts-and-crafts store, the same one that had its payment systems hacked a while back.

Michaels charges a $2.95 in-store fee (or higher, depending on options) versus a usual $6.95 shipping fee (or higher, depending on options).  Originally, I was of the impression that such an in-store fee would likely hinder business.

However, the reason why I think such an in-store fee can work here is because, the in-store fee is for items that are NOT actually at the store already, but have to be shipped to the store from their warehouses.  Thus, the item is not actually in-stock, but has to still be shipped.  Instead of it being actually being shipped to your home, however, it’s shipped to the store, where you can pick it up at your convenience (within reason, of course- most stores do only hold items for a number of days before the order is cancelled).

This can help protect your package against “porch pirates” (those thieves that steal your packages right off your front porch or around your house when you’re not home to pick up your packages when the carrier arrives to deliver them).

Thus, you can save $4 (presuming you take the lowest-priced options- $2.95 for in-store and $6.95 for shipping) by having the item shipped to store.  Now, this in-store fee could still hamper business a bit because there are other retailers that don’t charge for shipping to store (Walmart is a prominent example, among others – believe Best Buy and Target have this as well).

Now, Michaels is more of a speciality, niche (and smaller) retailer where they specialize in arts and crafts, something that is not as focused on at Walmart and Target, but the in-price shipping could still be a detriment as compared to those retailers.

Still, the in-store fee isn’t quite as outrageous as I originally thought, thinking originally it was on in-store-already-in-stock items, as that type of fee went out of style at least a few years ago, if not longer.

However, Michaels MIGHT benefit more by dropping the in-store fee and charging a SLIGHTLY higher price on the item itself (i.e. I’m not saying to charge $2.95 more on the item, but maybe $1-$1.50 more)- this way, Michaels would drop the in-store shipping fee entirely, which could turn off some consumers when they see such a fee, as most retailers don’t have any nowadays.  And, the slightly higher cost would be paid by all consumers, more than making up for the loss in $2.95 in-store shipping option.

Something to think about and consider – what do you think of Michaels’ in-store shipping fee?

One update on Best Buy’s iPad Air 2 selection: All 128GB versions are back in stock, as are the 32GB versions.  It’s likely Best Buy limited the number of iPad Air 2s sold at the $125 discount to ensure there would be some at least available on Black Friday.  If all of them were sold on Thanksgiving, that would take away a key item that is in hot demand (as most Apple products are during the holidays).  I suspect Best Buy may do that again to ensure they have a quantity available for Cyber Monday.  They may even discount the iPad Mini 4 again too (right now, those are at full price).

One thing I have noticed with Best Buy’s shipping: While they still have free shipping site-wide on virtually all orders, their free 2-day shipping is gone (for now, at least).  They did have that free 2-day shipping up through Wednesday, but when Thanksgiving arrived, the free 2-day shipping disappeared.

My guess is that Best Buy wanted more consumers to have the urge to come in-store- if free 2-day shipping was offered, consumers would have less incentive to come to the store to purchase in person, as it wouldn’t take much longer for the consumer to receive the item.

Another reason is likely  because 2-day shipping would be much harder, being that Thanksgiving is a day where shipping doesn’t occur, plus Black Friday is quite busy and stressful for shipping, so 2-day shipping would be much harder, and to do it for free would be likely impossible.

Just some observations on Black Friday – what do you think?  What deals or observations have you seen in-store or online?

I may have more observations and/or thoughts later tonight or this weekend- stay tuned! Until then, good luck finding the best deals possible!

Why ecommerce and mcommerce are important in the holiday season (Part 2)

Hope you are enjoying Thanksgiving and have had a great Thanksgiving meal (I know I did! :-)!

A few observations from this Thanksgiving (and from earlier in the week) when it comes to specific retailers and their sales/policies:

Best Buy: Had the iPad Mini 4 for $125 off (all versions- 16, 32, 64, 128 GB) from Monday through Wednesday, then had the IPad Air 2 for $125 off (all versions- 16, 32, 64, 128 GB) on Thanksgiving.  (Note that Best Buy had the iPad Air 2 for $75 off this past weekend).  Thus, they were the same price, yet, the iPad Mini 4 only sold out of all versions at that discount very early this morning (about 12 AM ET, with the 128 GB Gold being the last one to become either “Check Stores” or “Sold Out.”)

However, the iPad Air 2, only at a $125 discount since about 1 AM ET, has sold out in all versions.  Just before 5 PM ET, the 128GB Space Gray and the 32GB Space Gray were still available, but the 128GB version became “Check Stores” instead of “Add to Cart” about 5:15 PM ET, while the 32GB Space Gray just became that since the time I went to eat dinner in the 5-6 PM hour.

Thus, you can see how the iPad Air 2 at $224.99, $274.99, $324.99, and $374.99 sold out much quicker than the iPad Mini 4 at the respective same prices.  (Note that the Mini 4 128 GB version are back in stock at their usual price of $499.99; the 32 GB Silver version being available for $399.99 – its usual price – but only by “Checking Stores” – this seems to indicate that there was a certain allotment of iPad Mini 4s at the respective price of $374.99, being that I mentioned that the 128GB versions did all sell out by very early this morning.  Thus, it will be interesting to see what occurs the rest of this holiday season in terms of both when Best Buy has iPad Air 2s and Mini 4s at sale prices and if those sale prices are as low as $125 off the normal prices or only $75 off the normal prices).

Reportedly, Target had the 128GB Silver iPad Air 2 for something like $379.99 early this week, plus a 10% off TECH coupon code, but it was reportedly out.  The other colors in the 128GB version, plus the 32GB version in all three colors (Silver, Gold, Space Gray), were all there, able to use the 10% TECH coupon code, but not the 128GB version.

Then, as of Wednesday, the 10% code was gone.  As of Thanksgiving, all versions – including the missing 128GB silver version – were in stock at full price ($499.99 for the 128GB version), with NO coupon code whatsoever.

Thus, scarcity is being used to encourage purchasing right at that exact moment, a major key in digital marketing, ecommerce, and mcommerce.  It’s often difficult to convince a consumer to buy, especially without a salesperson there to answer his/her questions, but giving the scarcity of only so many items in stock at a specific price is often enough impetus for a consumer interested in such an item to purchase right then and there or to potentially miss his/her opportunity to get that item at the lowest price possible.

In an upcoming post- likely on Friday – a retailer that still charges an in-store pickup fee in 2016. Yes, unbelievable as that may sound, there is still at least one retailer that does.  I will mention who that is and why that is likely not helping business in an upcoming post.

Until my next post, enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

 

Why ecommerce & mcommerce are important in holiday season (Part 1)

I hope all of you are having a great Thanksgiving!

I know it has been a while since I last wrote; this has been due to multiple circumstances and situations, both regarding family and business. My sincere apologies for this: I hope to write much more regularly for this blog in the near future, including this upcoming holiday weekend.

The theme for this weekend’s blog posts will be why ecommerce and mcommerce are important in this hoilday season.  I will expand on this further in a blog post tonight.

For now, I will say that an ecommerce site that is mobile-friendly (making it a mcommerce site as well) is essential for every retailer and industry doing business today.  Why?  The key reason is because, there is a dilemma over whether retailers should be open on Thanksgiving.

While there are notable retailers still open on Thanksgiving this year, including

Best Buy

Target

Walmart

etc.

 

There are other notable retailers that are not open on Thanksgiving this year, including

Jo-Ann Fabrics

Lowe’s

TJ-Maxx/Marshall’s/Home Goods (all owned by TJX Brands)

Even the retailers that are open this year didn’t open earlier as they have over the past few holiday seasons.  The earliest any of them are opening is JC Penney at 3 PM ET, with retailers like Best Buy and Toys R Us opening at 5 PM ET, then ones like Target and Walmart opening at 6 PM ET (and staying open throughout the night into Black Friday).

Thus, the trend where retailers were determined to be open on Thanksgiving has died down to the point where only the most prominent retailers are opening on Thanksgiving, whereas others have decided to remain closed, give their employees the holiday off, and reopen on Black Friday (often as early as 12 AM ET, and certainly no later than 5-6 AM ET, much earlier than usual opening hours).

But, what must be realized nowadays is that if you have an ecommerce site (and especially an mcommerce site) in today’s digital age, you are NEVER really closed, even if your brick-and-mortar stores are closed.

In fact, on my Twitter feed @jchengery about four years ago, I advocated that retailers would be better off staying closed on Thanskgiving and allowing their websites to operate as normal and get the sales that can be had just as easily (if not easier) than people going to the store and picking up items.

Yes, there are about 29 million people estimated to shop at the stores on Thanksgiving, and while that certainly sounds like a lot, that is still a very small percentage of the overall American population.  And, while some will say that retailers who choose to remain closed while competitors are open on Thanksgiving are under pressure to choose to be open as well, if they have a capable ecommerce site and the infrastructure to handle orders, then the advantage those competitors get from being open is mitigated to a large degree.

Sure, some competitors may benefit from those consumers who want their purchase right now, but if retailers who have capable sites offer special pricing, special add-ins, and/or special discounts/perks, it’s likely that many of those consumers will be willing to wait for their packages for a bit, being especially that we are still a month away from Christmas Eve.

Before the advent of the Internet age and the rise of ecommerce and mcommerce, yes, retailers who went outside the norm of what their competitors were doing would often be at a disadvantage, but that is no longer the case with a capable ecommerce site that can handle mobile ordering as well, something that is clearly on the rise in 2016.

I will have more to say on this topic in the coming posts, along with some observations I’ve seen in regards to retailers and their sales this Thanksgiving holiday- stay tuned!

Again, I wish you and yours a very Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous Thanksgiving!

The Apple Watch Is Just Another Example of Apple’s “Smart” Marketing Funnel

By now, you have probably heard at least some of the details regarding Apple’s new smartwatch.  I’ll mention a few of the highlights below.

1. Its battery life is 18 hours.

In comparison to some Android smartwatches, that’s actually an improvement.  However, when it comes to some notable smartwatches, including Pebble, that’s actually unremarkable.  There are some smartwatches on the market that can go as long as 7 DAYS between charges; Apple’s only comes in at 3/4 DAY, which means that you will have to charge every night at least.  Keep in mind too that that 18-hour mark is likely its maximum; the actual time will vary depending on your activity and will likely be less than the stated 18 hours.

As you would expect, Apple touted the features of the Watch in an attempt to mitigate any disappointment that may have been felt by the fact that the stated time of the battery life was just 18 hours.  Tim Cook stated that the “Apple Watch is the most advanced time piece ever created.”

2. The starting pricing tiers for the three types (Sport, Watch, and “Edition”) are $349, $549, and $10,000(!)

I think many equally wondered what the top-tier pricing would be for the “Edition” version, and I think some were amazed that Apple would go that high, thinking Apple would sell at a lower price than $10,000.  Of course, Apple is trying to market it as a luxury jewelry item, a major reason why they’ve promoted it in two Vogue magazines (U.S. and China), including a recent 12-page ad in the U.S. version.  Combined with the materials used to construct the watches (especially the Edition version, which has 18-karat gold) and a high profit margin, that’s why Apple is charging the amount that it is.

It still remains to be seen if the luxury market will open up its arms and wallets to the Apple Watch, being that this is new territory for Apple, never mind the fact the smartwatch industry has not taken off as many experts thought it would.

This September 9, 2014 New Yorker article, “Does Anyone Want a Smartwatch?“, shows the issues surrounding smartwatch makers to this point, and I think Apple will come across similar issues, especially when it comes to whether people actually feel they NEED one.  Yes, there will be devoted Apple fans who will want to get one just as they did the iPhone and iPad, but as that article mentions, those items replaced something before them and did it better.  The question is, “What is the smartwatch replacing?”

Some people don’t wear watches of any type, while others wear a $9.99-$29.99 timepiece that they like, think it goes well with their attire, and tells time (what a concept! :-).  These timepieces can easily last 5-10 years or longer (I’ve had watches work even beyond 10 years, and that can be without changing the cell battery; if I change the cell battery, I’ve had some watches work 15-20 years without an issue).

This brings me to my point about Apple’s “smart” marketing funnel once again being at play with its Apple Watch, and why getting 5-10 years or beyond of use with this current Apple Watch may be a period of time that never occurs due to the way Apple and virtually all tech companies operate.

If you’ve followed along with Apple products in recent history, you know that an iPhone or iPad model is released every year (give or take a few months).  It will often have the latest specs (or close to it) at the time it is released, then it quickly becomes outdated, just as virtually all technology does.  Apple will then release the next updated model with updated specs.  You’ve seen this with its smartphone: iPhone 5, iPhone 5c & 5s, iPhone 6 & 6 Plus; you’ve seen this with its tablet: iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2; you’ve seen this with its mini tablet: iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3.

In the not-too-distant past, many Apple fans were determined to get every updated version, just because every model seemed so new and innovative.  However, as time has gone on, I know of many Apple users who don’t get every version of the iPhone, not seeing the need to update because the newest model wasn’t that much different from the one they were currently using.  In addition, people were more willing to upgrade when their 2-year contracts run out, thus leading to them often skipping one model upgrade, at least.

The iPad has been similar, being that the technology upgrades weren’t that much different from the previous version, especially over the past few years.  Plus, in the iPad’s case, the full-size tablet has started to witness declining sales due to the smaller-sized tablet (iPad Mini line) and, most recently, the phablet-sized smartphone (iPhone 6 Plus).

Still, even with Apple users skipping some updates, they still were willing to upgrade their products, and in many cases, they had to.  Some of the newest iOS operating updates and/or current apps don’t work or work as well with older hardware versions (that have older operating systems or memory limitations- those who own an iPad 2 like me know this, especially when it comes to updating to iOS 8, which can take up over 25% of a 16GB iPad 2).  Thus, it was necessary to upgrade your hardware in order to continue receiving the benefits and conveniences of that technology.  This is true of Apple (as it is pretty much of every technology company).

Apple has also integrated this into its smartwatch as well, and that could be a potential deterrent for those who expect their timepieces to last a long time (i.e. 10 years or more).

On Apple’s part, it’s smart marketing because, this will encourage (and even force) users to upgrade their timepieces in order to continue gaining the benefits and convenience from the Apple Watch.  Apps that are used on the Apple Watch will likely need an updated operating system (either the most current or close to it) in order to continue functioning properly and giving the Apple Watch its greatest value.  Those who want to keep their Apple Watch version for a long period of time (say, 5+ years or more) likely won’t be able to upgrade the iOS operating system after a while either due to technology incompatibilities, lack of storage space, or some other reason (much like the issues with the iPad 2 and even with the iPad 3 and iPad 4).

Thus, I suspect that after two to three years (maybe five years, max), the current Apple Watch won’t be able to handle the iOS updates and/or the updated apps needed to give the Apple Watch its greatest functionality.  Thus, users will be faced with one of two choices- either purchase the newest (or at least newer) version of the Apple Watch or stop using the Apple Watch altogether.  For diehard Apple fans who like the watch and have grown accustomed to its features and conveniences, that may be nearly impossible to do.

Thus, Apple has employed its marketing funnel again in order to get Apple Watch users to become paying customers AND remain paying customers (and that doesn’t even include utilizing iTunes and Apple Pay, two more ways to keep these customers as RECURRING paying customers).  That is really what you want to see in a successful business- the ability to get AND KEEP paying customers in your funnel- that’s how you can make residual income long term, which is why Apple is doing so well in terms of revenues and stock price, as well as why it has so much cash on hand.

Therefore, if you really want to learn about marketing strategy and employ that into your own business and your own marketing methods, pay close attention to Apple’s product development and launch strategies – you can learn a great deal of how to set up your own product development cycles and marketing strategies in order to get customers to pay you and to keep paying you over a long period of time, while boosting and promoting your brand in the process.

 

Why Apple Should Delay The Apple Watch- Updated- Better, But Still A Wait and See

I’m writing this updated post to my Apple Watch post yesterday due to the fact that there are reportedly two main updates to the Apple Watch prior to the event on Monday that were just revealed today:

1. The Apple Watch will reportedly have better battery life than was reported before, supposedly up to 5 hours with fairly moderate app use (via this 9to5Mac article).

2. The Apple Watch WILL be able to monitor heart rate (beats per minute) via its Heart Rate Glance (via the same 9to5Mac article).

Both of these bode well for Apple Watch’s immediate success, particularly #2.  That is because this should help to make the Apple Watch more appealing to millennials and for them to see it as being valuable enough and useful enough to where they’ll want to buy it sooner rather than later.

Thus, I do think the prospects for Apple Watch’s immediate sales are better with these developments and previously unannounced capabilities, though I still think there is enough uncertainty there in regards to battery life (how much do specific apps drain the battery, for instance), limited apps, limited capabilities, lack of general enthusiasm in the smartwatch industry, and phone users who are not Apple users (Android, Windows, etc.) that it will likely cause the Apple Watch to not quite have the impact some are predicting when it comes to the smartwatch industry.

Will the Apple Watch do enough to move the smartwatch industry and the wearables industry in general? Over time, and with better advancements and capabilities, it’s possible, but I still don’t think this first rendition will move the industry as much as some are expecting.  As I said yesterday, there will be Apple fans who will go out and “have to have it” right away either because they want to be part of the “in” crowd or because they want to be one of the first who had the very first Apple Watch, but I still think that expectations might be out-of-whack, even with these two positive developments for the Apple Watch.

There are still questions on how popular wearables, particularly smartwatches, will become overall- it still comes down to how useful these devices will be, especially in regards to the relatively high cost (especially with the Apple Watch).  The health monitoring will especially be the key, particularly when it comes to the Apple Watch (as I said yesterday, don’t expect the Apple Watch to replace your iPhone- Apple can’t afford that, so that’s not happening, certainly not in the foreseeable future)- if that health monitoring feature is useful enough, that may be the biggest key for the Apple Watch and for the smartwatch industry in general to take off and become as part of mainstream society as the smartphone and tablet (or is that “phablet”?) has become.

Why Apple Should Delay The Apple Watch

As you probably know, Apple is planning to unveil its Apple Watch to the world this coming Monday, March 9.  This will be the final version that will ship in April.  Via the Wall Street Journal, at an event earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “… one of the biggest surprises people are going to have when they start using it is the breadth of what it will do.”

The Breadth of What The Apple Watch Can Do? Or What It Can’t Do?

However, there have been several developments since that statement that seem to indicate that the Apple Watch is underwhelming tech experts and the public at large, thus hinting that the public may not be so amazed at what it can do, but MORE AMAZED at what it CAN’T do.

1. Apple Watch will not have advanced tracking of health signs (via PCMag article), including ability to measure blood pressure, heart activity, or stress levels.

2. Apple Watch apps will be extremely limited, especially in the early going, because Apple wants a successful launch and wants to preserve battery life of the device (via Business Insider article).

3. Speaking of battery life, even with the limited apps and their capabilities, the battery life of the Apple Watch may only provide up to 3.5 hours of app usage between charges, and just 2.5 hours if you are constantly checking sports scores, stock quotes, or social media accounts (via PCMag article).

All of those limitations, and the starting price for the Apple Watch will reportedly be $349?! Why am I not surprised that most are less than impressed or are concerned about the longevity of the Apple Watch?

Here’s what the Apple Watch will reportedly be able to do when it’s released in April:

1. Provides quick, easy-to-read notifications from your iPhone.

2. Enables you to make mcommerce purchases right from your Apple Watch.

3. Tracks your daily activity (such as how many steps you take, but as mentioned, no advanced health metrics, including blood pressure).

Who Is The Apple Watch For?

Most Apple experts and tech insiders are even confused over what market Apple is going after and what problem it will solve with the Apple Watch (via this Business Insider article).

This is probably why there was great debate within Apple itself to even create and release a smartwatch, as it does not seem everyone is in agreement with CEO Tim Cook, Head of Design Jony Ive, and Apple executive Bob Mansfield on the success and longevity of the Apple Watch.

As that last Business Insider article mentioned, this is an important product launch for Apple due to the fact that it’s the first new product line for Apple since the iPad five years ago, as well as the first new product line since the death of co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs.

Thus, it makes sense for Apple to proceed cautiously in terms of what the Apple Watch can do right off the bat.  However, the fact that Cook mentioned that “people will be amazed by the breadth of what it can do” seems to be at odds with that cautious approach, being that it implies that the Apple Watch will impress in terms of its features.  That is especially true when you consider that other smartwatches have those advanced health tracking capabilities the Apple Watch will lack at a much smaller price point.

This is all the more reason why I really think Apple should have held back the launch of the Apple Watch.  Of course, that’s likely not going to happen, being that the event is just four days away, but it will be amazing if the Apple Watch can really be the hit it is expected to be at this stage.

Let’s look at why the Apple Watch COULD be a hit at this point:

1. Apple made what I consider a smart marketing move (but with a caveat I mention below) to have it appear in Vogue in an effort to have it appeal to affluents (via this Recode article).  This was after it appeared on two notable models, Liu Wen and Candace Swanepoel, in both Vogue China and Self Magazine, respectively.

2. It is the first wearable product created and marketed by Apple, which is synonymous with tech.

3. It is an Apple product.

While the third reason is a cited reason by many Apple Watch supporters who think it will be a hit, it may take more than Apple’s noted reputation to ensure its smartwatch will be an actual hit and stand out from the increasingly crowded smartwatch market.

Let’s look at the many concerns of why the Apple Watch may not be a hit in the smartwatch industry, and why it might not even have that long of a life:

1. I mentioned that it was a smart move by Apple to have its watch appear in Vogue in an effort to get affluents interested in it and see it as a “must-have” item.  However, this also shows what might be Apple Watch’s greatest weakness: What is Apple Watch’s target market?

Personally, it seems to me that Apple is trying to target everyone who is the owner of an iPhone and get him/her to buy the Apple Watch.  This approach, what seems to be the “let’s throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” marketing approach, rarely ever works to great success.  Even a company like Apple has to have a solid marketing approach in order for its products to be successful, and, truthfully, the marketing for this product seems haphazard and all-over-the-place.

What was originally being marketed as a “product that will amaze people on the breadth of what it can do” (i.e. the mainstream crowd) and that will have great health tracking abilities (i.e. the millennial crowd, especially), now is being marketed in a very prestigious magazine in two different countries to appeal to the affluents.

Granted, there are three different versions of this watch: Classic, Sport, and Luxury, but I have serious questions on the “need” for this product.  As I mentioned in my post, “The Lack Of Perceived Value: The Missing Link in Smartwatches” what will a smartwatch do that a smartphone can’t do? Why would the mainstream public want this item when the smartwatch does nothing more (and far less, actually) than a smartphone can do?

This is the major reason why the smartwatch industry hasn’t taken off as many experts thought it would, and based on the lack of features and the higher cost of the Apple Watch, I can’t see where Apple’s entry is going to have more success either.

Yes, some of the diehard Apple fans will probably buy it because it’s Apple.  Yes, some affluents may have to get the Luxury version to show that they have the “latest and greatest device” from Apple.

But, it’s not likely that the Apple Watch will be deemed a “success” or a “mover” in the smartwatch industry if it’s just some members of those two groups, as it doesn’t seem there are a great majority in either category that are convinced they must have that Apple Watch.

2. Most of the mainstream public is not fond of the price point (especially when an iPhone is anything but inexpensive, costing $300+ to $400+ to start), nor are convinced they need it (especially without the advanced tracking features, a key importance to millennials in particular).

3. As for the affluents, I think many are not convinced that Apple is elite or chic enough when it comes to the watch industry for them to just buy the Apple Watch immediately when it is up for purchase.  This is why, though, Apple was smart to introduce the Watch to the affluent group by advertising in Vogue in both the United States and China, to at least give themselves the chance to gain more of this market.

Still, the lack of groundbreaking features, the high price point, and the uncertainty of how affluents will perceive the Apple Watch all indicate that the Watch will likely fall below expectations rather than meet or exceed them.

Apple’s History Suggests You May Be Better Off Waiting To Buy The Apple Watch

Plus, a few things about Apple’s history that indicate why waiting may be a good idea if you are considering purchasing the Apple Watch:

1. The Apple Watch will likely never be able to handle phone calls on its own (something I mentioned in my “Missing Link in Smartwatches” post); to do so would take away from iPhone sales, something Apple can’t afford, as it’s the one product line that is really doing well for them. The iPad line has fallen for four consecutive quarters now, and while Macs are holding their own and even growing slightly of late, it’s not expected that that trend will continue, especially since Macs can’t double as tablets due to the lack of touchscreens.

2. Speaking of lack of touchscreens, Apple has a tendency to never have its products multi-task.  In other words, Apple will not (or rarely) add another feature to a product that will hurt another product line.  This is a major reason why Apple was against increasing the size of the iPhone for so long; to do so would hurt the iPad line, and trends suggest that part of the reason why large tablet sales are falling off is because of the presence of phablets, something Apple only got into with its recent iPhone 6 Plus model, a few years after other smartphone manufacturers (including Samsung, HTC, Google, and others) had released phablets.  Having their Mac laptops have touchscreens and become hybrids like Windows’ PCs would have also hurt iPad sales, a major reason (in my opinion) that they were (and are still against) having their Mac laptops become hybrids.

(And, Windows hybrids are becoming more plentiful on the market because there IS a demand for them- this again shows that Apple has a tendency to keep their product lines separate from each other when it comes to features so they don’t eat into the respective revenue lines from each product line, even when there is a demand for such a “hybrid” product).

3. Based on #2, if the Apple Watch stays around long enough, chances are strong that the Apple Watch will only be able to do the advanced health tracking features in a future Apple Watch model.  It seems unlikely that they would add the necessary software and apps for it to be able to track those features on this specific model, as the hardware doesn’t seem able to withstand many apps running at the same time.  Thus, it would seem likely that Apple would create a newer, more robust Apple Watch within the next six to twelve months (just as they do with their iPhones and iPads) that is more energy-efficient and more capable of tracking advanced health statistics.  Thus, that means the consumer would need to shell out ANOTHER $350+ to get the Apple Watch he/she thought he/she would be getting with THIS Apple Watch version.

It remains to be seen if I’m right on #3, but the history of Apple product launches, releases, and cycles would suggest that that is the path Apple is going to take with the Apple Watch.  Thus, getting the Apple Watch now when it is largely devoid of the main selling points the public was waiting for would only be for those who want to say, “I was one of the first few to own the very first Apple Watch.”  In other words, it would be a status symbol, which would be fine and enough for some affluents to purchase, but probably not enough for other affluents.  The same would hold true for the mainstream population: The most diehard Apple fans that camp out for hours and days at a time might be willing to go for it (though, as I’ve said before, the Apple Watch would not do what the iPhone does, so maybe they won’t even be willing to camp out for the Apple Watch), but the vast majority would probably not be convinced to shell out enough money that would purchase the next iPhone model with a 2-year agreement on a smartwatch that really can’t match other smartwatches in the industry when it comes to advanced health tracking features or even apps.

Why I Would Have Waited To Release The Apple Watch And Why I Think This Model Will Underwhelm And Even Disappoint Analysts And The Public

Thus, if I were Apple, I would have delayed this product launch until later this year or even early 2016 to ensure that the watch had long battery life, had the ability to measure and track advanced health metrics (one of the main selling features that was either mentioned or strongly rumored to have), and had a more defined target market in terms of what problems or issues it would solve.

Yes, it’s a common practice to deliver a product that is short on features in order to gain traction in a marketplace and to get feedback to make improvements for future releases (this happens often in the digital software industry), but those added features are usually offered for free or at reduced cost to customers who help to iron out those “bugs” and provide that feedback for added features that are missing.  As mentioned above, based on Apple’s history, it’s more likely Apple will present an upgraded Apple Watch within six to twelve months from now with those features (provided the Apple Watch gains enough traction in the marketplace to achieve longevity to necessitate a more advanced version in the first place), features that were either mentioned or strongly hinted at when the Apple Watch was first presented and promoted.  In essence, a person would have to purchase the Apple Watch twice if he/she purchases the Watch now in order to get the Watch he/she thought he/she would be getting based on the publicity surrounding the product when it was first announced.

In addition, I am not convinced about the clarity of Apple Watch’s target market. While the Apple brand name carries a lot of weight and has a lot of fanfare and publicity behind it, when the product itself is relatively expensive to much of the population and doesn’t provide a defined solution or benefit to most of the population, the odds are against it that it will be considered a “hit” or a “mover” in the smartwatch industry.

It’s possible Apple could create a smartwatch that could do that, but from what I have heard, read, and seen, this Apple Watch is likely NOT that revolutionary smartwatch experts and the public expect to see from a noted tech company like Apple.  That is why I think this Apple Watch will likely underwhelm and “surprise” us by the breadth of what it CANNOT do rather than by what it can do- thus, I think it may “surprise” some on how much it underachieves compared to Apple’s previous product launches, including the iPhone and the iPad.

Feel free to leave your thoughts on Apple, its upcoming Apple Watch,  and if you’re eagerly anticipating it or not below.

 

 

The Lack Of Perceived Value: The Missing Link in Smartwatches

 

If you’ve been paying attention to the tech world for the last year or so, one of the big topics has been about the smartwatch.  This device would allow you to take calls and messages, check the weather, and more, all from the comfort of your wrist.  It was purported to be the next “big thing” in the tech world, especially when it came to wearables.  Yet, smartwatches are still pretty much grounded, even though there have been more and more of them flooding the market.  Even Apple is purported to release their “Apple Watch” in 2015.

So, “what happened”?  Why have smartwatches not taken off like most experts expected them to?

The reason is because of perceived value, or more specifically, the lack thereof.

When a consumer is considering a purchase, he/she has to consider the following:

– What’s in it for me? (What is commonly referred to as “WIIFM” – which you can also define as the benefits of the product).

– The price of the product.

– How much value the product brings to me. (In other words, how much value does the consumer perceive to receive when he/she purchases that product?).

Thus, when a person considers a smartwatch, he/she will ask what that smartwatch can do for him/her (WIIFM).

– It can handle phone calls and messages.

– It can tell the time.

– It can give a weather forecast.

– It can browse the Web (though, as you can imagine, due to its tiny screen, it’s not a comfortable browsing experience by any means).

The problem is, how is this different from a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer?  In reality, it really isn’t.  Thus, there is no new value that is created, certainly no more value than what any of these other devices can give to you.  The consumer will not perceive any new value that makes him/her shout, “I’ve got to have a smartwatch!”

Even worse, almost every smartwatch currently on the market needs a phone in order for it to handle the phone calls and messages it can handle (i.e. a smartwatch alone cannot be used to handle phone calls and messages).  This means that a person has to purchase a smartwatch AND a smartphone in order to benefit from the watch.

Thus, why would a person be willing to pay a few to several hundred dollars for a smartphone, then be willing to pay a few to several hundred dollars MORE for a smartwatch when the watch really doesn’t do anything that the smartphone doesn’t do.

Some proponents of a smartwatch will say, “But you can carry the watch right on your wrist and don’t have to pull out your phone.”

Really, though, is pulling out your phone that difficult?  Most phones are not heavy, and virtually everyone is carrying it on them nowadays, so it’s not that difficult to pull it out, not when we rely on them so much.  The few instances where this might have been an issue, such as when you are jogging, companies have come out with convenient ways to mitigate this issue.

Have you seen that new waistband product that you can put around your waist and carry products such as your smartphone in it?  It’s even moisture-resistant, so even if you have no pockets in your athletic wear, you can still have your cell phone on you, ready to grab at a moment’s notice.  Thus, the smartwatch’s perceived advantage and value over a smartphone is largely mitigated even in this rare instance where a smartwatch could have an advantage over a smartphone.

Thus, most people are not going to look at a smartwatch and think, “I’ve got to have that.”  There is no perceived value and advantage to any other mobile device that a person currently has.  This is especially true in light of the fact that the smartwatch can’t handle phone calls and messages without a smartphone to go with it.

In fact, look at some of the main advantages of the three main Internet-enabled devices in use today: Smartphones, Tablets, PCs/Laptops

Smartphones

– Smartphones can take and make phone calls, keep messages, keep important contact information, and dial a person in a split second.

– Smartphones enable people to browse comfortably enough on the go to do online research and compare prices and items from various retailers.

– Smartphones enable people to pass the time when they have a few minutes, such as playing games, text messaging, listening to music, or watching video.

Tablets

– Tablets can enable you to comfortably browse the Web, such as conducting research on various products you may want to buy. Research has also shown that tablets, more than smartphones, in fact, are the preferred mobile device to make purchases on.  Thus, consumers like larger screens in order to make purchases.

– Tablets enable you to easily watch television programs, listen to music, or watch movies/video via the larger screen. Again, the larger screen of the tablet works well for people to consume content (especially when it comes to video).

– Tablets have more processing power to where they can handle more complex apps and tasks; with an added keyboard, even light to moderate word processing tasks can be done.

PCs/Laptops

– PCs/Laptops enable you to have the richest Web browsing experience, since the screens are the largest.

– PCs/Laptops enable you to watch your favorite programs and movies, listen to music, and more via the largest screens available.

– PCs/Laptops have the most processing power so that they can handle virtually any app (that can be used via a regular computer, and most apps can now); with their own keyboards, they are also the best choice for the heaviest word processing tasks.

Now, when you compare all of those features to a smartwatch’s features, tell me what a smartwatch can do better? That’s right – nothing (one possibility that could exist is mentioned below).

Thus, can you see why smartwatches have failed to take off?  With a lack of perceived value, consumers are not motivated enough to be rushing to the stores and pick up a smartwatch.

This is likely not changing even with the Apple Watch – again, it comes down to a lack of perceived value.  I feel that this lack of value and the higher price tag is why some analysts are now thinking that the Apple Watch may also be a “flop.” While fans of Apple products are strong supporters of the Apple brand, they too will think, “Why do I need an Apple Watch when my iPhone can do everything I need it to do? The Apple Watch won’t work without the iPhone, so why do I need to pay an extra $350 or so to get a product that won’t do anything extra that will benefit me?”

There is nothing a smartwatch can do that any of the other Internet-connected devices can’t do.  This includes the smartphone, and virtually everyone has their smartphone on them at all times, thus largely negating the convenience and advantage of having a smartwatch on your arm.

So, what can smartwatch manufacturers do to add perceived value so that consumers are willing to rush out and buy one?

If these smartwatch manufacturers can get it to where a smartwatch can handle calls and messages with no smartphone needed, that could appeal to a part of the market that isn’t interested in paying out a few to several hundred dollars for a smartphone.  If the smartwatch is priced competitively enough to offset most smartphones (i.e. $100-$200 at most), people who have wanted a smartphone but were turned off by the cost and only went with a basic cell phone, might be willing to upgrade to a smartwatch if it does virtually everything a basic cell phone does, plus a little more.

One feature that smartwatch manufacturers could emphasize is its ability to play audio.  Being that watching video on a smartwatch is impractical due to its tiny screen, listening to audio could be a viable benefit to emphasize.  Whether that’s music or audiobooks (a growing market in the digital publishing world), smartwatches could even be a viable addition to those who already have a smartphone, as they might be more willing to activate the watches on their wrists to listen to audio rather than pulling out their smartphones, especially since most people use smartphones’s calling and texting capabilities, whether via the phone itself or via apps (such as Facebook, etc.).

Using such capabilities on the smartphone consumes precious battery life; especially for people on-the-go all day and coming home from work who want to listen to audio content, listening on their smartwatches might be more amenable to conserve on the small amount of battery life left on their phones.

The one barrier that would need to be overcome when it comes to emphasizing smartwatch’s audio capabilities (besides the fact that the audio needs to be crystal-clear in clarity and volume) is the ability to transmit the sound directly from the watch to the person’s ears, as it ‘s likely most people near them do not want to hear the book the person is listening to, etc.  I would think this would be doable, either by enabling the ability to plug in headphones, or better yet, via a wireless transmission, such as Bluetooth headphones or ear pieces, etc.

Bottom Line

Unless smartwatch manufacturers increase the perceived value of smartwatches, it is unlikely that people are going to see them as essential, must-have mobile devices.  Right now, people do not see smartwatches as more than accessories to smartphones, and being that they do nothing more than what smartphones (and tablets and computers) do, they are seen as nothing more than superfluous purchases, and relatively expensive purchases at that.

Most will not be able to justify paying $100-$500+ dollars for a smartphone, then have to pay another $100-$500+ for a smartwatch, just so that messages can be transferred back and forth and so that a person doesn’t have to reach into his/her pocket, handbag, or waistband for his/her phone that is always with him/her.  Unless that smartwatch can do something specific that a smartphone cannot do or cannot do as easily to provide a perceived value that a smartphone cannot, it is very unlikely smartwatches will take off and sustain themselves as an established subsection of the mobile market.

 

 

The EU VAT Directive For Digital Products Begins Tomorrow!

Hello everyone! My sincere apologies for not updating the Digital Marketing Times blog more in 2014.  This was due to a number of circumstances, including business-related and personal/family reasons.  I intend to write much more on this blog in 2015, so please stay tuned and check in regularly, as there will be more digital marketing information you can use right here.

Before I begin, I want to wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2015!

The information I want to discuss today relates to the EU VAT directive that will take effect beginning tomorrow, January 1, 2015.  Essentially, all marketers who sell digital products are required to collect VAT based on the purchaser’s location.  This is where a myriad of problems come in, especially for those that are small- to medium-sized businesses, as a lot of expensive administrative costs and extra paperwork is required to be in compliance.

A good summary of all of those issues can be found here:

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer; thus, the information I present here is NOT to be taken as legal advice.  Thus, I am NOT responsible for any information presented here that you choose to use in your business.  Please consult a qualified attorney and/or accountant for legal advice regarding the EU VAT and your particular situation.

I’ve learned from a reliable source (who lives in the EU) that each EU member state must create a national law, pass it in their respective Parliaments, then apply those laws in their respective countries in order to make the EU VAT executable.  As you can imagine, that will take time.

Now, the question remains whether those national laws, once they are passed, can retroactively apply the EU VAT directive back to January 1, 2015, the first day the EU VAT directive is to take effect.  That is anyone’s guess, but for the EU countries to actively enforce that directive, they must pass their own national laws first.  That has not happened yet, and it will be a period of time before they do.

Suffice it to say, though, if you do sell digital products, you need to be aware of this law and take steps to be in compliance for if/when the respective EU countries pass their national laws to enact the EU VAT directive, especially if those laws do retroactively enforce that directive from January 1, 2015. (In other words, you need to be preparing for this NOW if you haven’t already).

Thus, what can you do if you sell digital products from your website(s)?

Well, if you don’t utilize a third-party processor like ClickBank (and I’ve heard that JVZoo and Zaxaa are working on complying as well) to take care of the VAT (and there are problems with this approach as well, which you can read more about at the link above), you’d have to register your business in each EU member state to which you sell, as each EU member state has different VAT rates (there are reportedly around 75 different rates!).

Plus, “digitally-delivered service” is defined differently in different EU countries; some countries will see sales of ebooks and digitally-delivered programs as being subject to VAT, while other countries will only see the sales of ebooks as being subject to VAT.  Thus, it is virtually impossible to satisfy the requirement due to the fact that digital marketers don’t usually get the required data needed to determine the purchaser’s place of origin until AFTER he/she has clicked the “Buy Now” button.

Thus, unless a third-party processor or a website plug-in can calculate the appropriate VAT after the purchaser has input his/her info, it’s virtually impossible for a digital marketer to apply the correct VAT for each purchase.  And, as I said, there are around 75 different VAT rates that can apply, depending upon the specific country and purchase.

Thus, you can see some of the issues that this EU VAT directive is causing for digital marketers, which is why many are calling it the “VATMESS,” even creating the hashtag #VATMESS on Twitter.

In my opinion, (again, not to be taken as legal advice), the best course of action would be the following:

1. Stay tuned to this developing issue- check back here regularly, as I’ll keep tabs on this issue.  The link above is also a good blog to check out.

2. Contact your attorney and/or accountant to learn how you can be in compliance with the EU VAT directive.  Do this NOW rather than later; even though there are no national laws in place (to my knowledge) to enforce the EU VAT directive, it’s possible they could retroactively apply the respective national law back to January 1, 2015 if/when the national laws are created and enacted.

3. Do NOT go the route that some digital marketers are considering: Not selling to EU members.  While this may seem like a reasonable alternative to avoid the legal issues and administrative headaches and paperwork that will accompany selling digital products to EU members, you would be in violation of discrimination laws for willfully not selling to EU members, creating a different type of (and equally large) legal issue for your business.

Essentially, you cannot just ignore this and hope it goes away.  While, as the link above indicates, EU government officials are beginning to realize the strain and cost the new EU VAT directive will put on digital businesses, especially those that are smaller- and medium-sized, the directive is likely NOT going away.  Instead, there will probably be some modifications that will be made to help make it easier for these businesses to be in compliance, but the businesses will still have to obtain the VAT, whether it’s through their own efforts and/or through a third-party processor.

In fact, the directive could potentially apply to physical products beginning in 2016 (as stated at the link above), which makes it even more vital that your business (especially if it also sells physical products in addition to digital products) stays informed and gets into compliance with VAT now.

As they say, “knowledge is power.” Stay in the know and stay tuned to this blog and to the link above for further details on the EU VAT directive – only by staying updated and taking action can ensure your business is in compliance with the new directive and can be profitable in 2015 and beyond.

 

Amazon Prime Is A Marketing Problem, Not A Value Problem

Much talk has been made over Amazon’s decision to raise its Amazon Prime program cost to $99 per year, up from $79 per year.  It’s the first time in the program’s nine-year history that the price was raised.  This comes shortly after Amazon raised the rates in countries throughout Europe.  Combine that with the fact that Amazon has only made a relatively marginal profit and is a publicly traded company, and it’s not that surprising that Amazon would raise the rate of Amazon Prime.

In fact, there were rumors that Amazon might raise the price to $119 per year, even up to $139 per year, so the fact that the price only went up $20 per year is actually small.

However, there are many people complaining about the price increase, enough so where they are reportedly considering dropping their Amazon Prime subscription before the next renewal.  At last check on this DealNews poll, there were 200 more votes to end their Prime subscriptions before renewal, about 58% willing to end it versus a 42% willing to keep it (essentially around 4 in 7 people willing to end it versus 3 in 7 people willing to keep it despite the rate increase).

Some are wondering if people are still getting enough value from their Amazon Prime subscription to justify the increased cost.  Well, let’s consider what you get:

– You get free 2-day shipping on nearly every items fulfill by Amazon, even if you don’t spend the minimum $35 as non-members must do.

– You get to borrow one free book each month (though you need an actual Kindle device; Kindle mobile apps or desktop applications do not quality for this benefit).

– You get access to Amazon Instant Video, including many free television episodes and series, movies, and more.

Those benefits alone give you more than what other subscription-rate video-only providers give you, such as Netflix or Hulu Plus, thanks to the countless number of items you can shop for online.

In addition, Amazon plans to release a new streaming radio service for Amazon Prime members in early April, thus entering the free online streaming industry alongside competitors such as Pandora, Spotify, Google Now, and iTunes Radio.  Thus, even more value will be provided to Amazon Prime subscribers.

Thus, I think it’s safe to say that the value of Amazon Prime is as high as ever, and soon to be even higher.  Why, then, are many people complaining and even considering ending their subscriptions to Amazon Prime?

In my opinion, it has to do with Amazon’s marketing.  How many times have you heard the magic number of “$99”?  Probably too many times – every time you think of Amazon or Amazon Prime, I’m sure that number has popped into your head, along with the soon-to-be old rate of $79.

This $99 is what people keep focusing on, and, thus, have overlooked what that number actually is.  That $99 is a yearly rate, not a monthly rate, and this is a point that Amazon has failed to remind people of.  In fact, to my knowledge, they haven’t even compared their service to Netflix’s.

Remember that Netflix offered their streaming online movie and television service for $6.95 per month, then it went up to its current $7.95 per month.  Not too many make mention of the $7.95 per month cost now. (Many subscribers and investors DID complain about the fact that Netflix raised the cost 60% to offer both DVDs and streaming to customers after they originally offered the two together for $9.99/month, plus the fact Netflix didn’t offer a discount for bundling the two together).

The $7.95/month cost, when multiplied by 12 months per year, comes out to an annual cost of $95.40/year, less than $4 cheaper than the new Amazon Prime rate.  As mentioned above, value isn’t the problem with Amazon Prime – it still offers way more than Netflix for that $99/year.  However, Amazon has failed to emphasize this in their marketing.

One of the main keys to marketing is pricing, and presenting that pricing so that it represents the most value.  This is usually shown by breaking a price down to its lowest unit cost.  You see this exhibited by many companies; one common example is life insurance companies breaking down life insurance to cost per day.  I’m sure you’ve seen Alex Trebek talking about Colonial Penn’s life insurance coverage costing “less than $.35/day; that’s less than the cost of a daily newspaper.”

When higher-cost items are broken down into smaller units, they are much more palatable to the budget-conscious consumer.  When you keep prices at higher units, especially ones pushing $100 like the new Amazon Prime rate, it’s going to be naturally oppressive to people because most people consider $100 to be sizable money.  However, if that cost was broken down by month or even day, it would be much more palatable to most and likely would quell much of the anger and dissension that has gone through the Amazon Prime subscriber base.  The yearly cost of $99 broken down by month comes out to be $8.25/month, $0.275/day (less than the cost of Colonial Penn’s life insurance daily rate, in fact).

This would especially be true if Amazon was comparing that monthly cost to a comparable service like Netflix or Hulu Plus, both of which do not do anything in regards to carrying a large inventory of items and shipping them to the consumer.  This would reemphasize the value subscribers are getting with Amazon Prime, and for most, would justify the higher rate increase.

Due to the fact that Amazon has failed to do this, everyone is fixated on the $99/year cost.  Certainly, the one-time payment of $99 can be a sizable amount for many, but when you consider that it’s a yearly cost and the fact that most households easily pay that much and more per month for their cable and Internet subscription packages, their groceries, their clothing, their utilities, their car insurance, their home insurance, and other essentials and non-essentials (cable and Internet, while important, isn’t exactly an essential package like food and shelter), you can see that the Amazon Prime rate increase isn’t that substantial for the value a subscriber gets.

Yet, Amazon is letting the public run wild with the $99/year price increase as being the “end of the world” and a good reason to end their subscriptions to Amazon Prime, even if they’ve been loyal subscribers for years.  This is another example of where the power of social media and online communication via the Internet must be monitored and responded to right away, as Amazon really hasn’t combatted this pervading viewpoint that the price increase is unreasonable.

As mentioned above, it was inevitable that the price increase would happen; after all, Amazon makes a marginal (in relative terms) profit compared to most companies, especially those that are publicly traded on a stock exchange.  Of course, investors will get antsy over rising costs and slim profits, so Amazon had to take some step to increase their revenues.  Besides the fact they raised the minimum purchase price for free shipping to $35 from $25, they’re raising the price of Amazon Prime to $99 from $79.

Again, though, it’s a relatively minor increase compared to what was originally proposed, not to mention it’s a one-time yearly fee, not a twelve-time monthly fee.  Most people pay far more per month for food, clothing, car insurance, health insurance, cable and Internet TV subscription bundles, etc.  Yet, most of those people aren’t complaining to the extent that they are about the Amazon Prime price increase, and that’s because of how those services are marketed as compared to Amazon’s marketing of Prime.

For Amazon to quell this anger and dissension amongst the Amazon Prime subscriber base, they need to do two things:

1. Break the yearly price down by month, even by day (as I did above), and emphasize that in their marketing.

2. Reemphasize all of the value subscribers will continue to receive, including the new music service that is scheduled to come online next month.

The first item has been non-existent, while the second item has been haphazardly done at best.  I really think that by emphasizing these two points, Amazon can help to quell the concerns and anger coming from much of the Amazon Prime subscriber base and keep many of them from fleeing.  If too many of them leave, this could start a bad cycle, as Amazon’s profits will suffer, scaring investors further and making Amazon consider more price increases in the near future, which will only make subscribers even angrier and giving them more impetus to unsubscribe from Amazon Prime.  It will be interesting to see the numbers of how many Amazon Prime subscribers stay and how many go as the new rate increase kicks in.

What do you think of Amazon’s rate increase of Prime? Reasonable? Unreasonable? Are you a subscriber to Amazon Prime? If so, do you plan on keeping your subscription or dropping it? Why? Feel free to answer any or all of the questions in the comments box below.

Fujitsu’s New Tactile Sensation Tablet Screen Could Be A Game Changer For Online Retail

Late in February, Fujitsu unveiled a prototype of a tablet that has the ability to allow the user to feel the texture of what he/she sees on the screen.  Therefore, if you are seeing a rough object, you could feel the coarseness of that object; if you’re seeing a smooth object, you could feel the silky smoothness of that object.

Think of the implications this could provide for online retail. Many people aren’t fond of purchasing clothing online because they can’t touch it, can’t try it on, etc.  While they may not be able to try it on (virtual reality and/or sophisticated online diagrams may solve that issue), with this technology, they certainly can get a feel of what the fabric feels like, increasing online clothing conversion rates.

This could encourage more people to shop for clothing online and help to pick up that segment of the online retail industry, as other categories sell much more via online channels, including technology, books, and even food (none of which rely on touch to help convince prospects to make a purchase).   With the tablet commerce (a.k.a. “tcommerce”) industry already picking up in terms of higher-priced purchases, this technology would fit in perfectly to encourage even more apparel purchases via tablets.

Most people (particularly women) like to feel the fabric and get an idea of how it would feel on their skin.  One part of that puzzle may be solved with this new tactile sensation technology; I definitely can see this technology revolutionizing the online retail and ecommerce industry in the coming years and make it as natural for people to purchase clothing online as they do technology, books, and food.

What do you think? Do you think this will be a game-changer, or is this just a technology that won’t leave any lasting impact on online retail? Let me know in the comments box below.