Why We’re In the Midst of A Revolution
We’re in an interesting age. Disruption is taking place. Netflix, Youtube, and other video media platforms are killing conventional television. Uber is killing the taxi business. Independent musicians are sticking it to record labels (and it’s working). Web apps and mobile-responsive websites are starting to kill native mobile apps (as we know them). The Amazon movement is killing retail and transforming the way that people consume. It’s all happening before our very eyes.
Disruption is nothing new. It has happened since the beginning of human cognition. It’s happened with every industry in history. It is, literally, how we evolve as a human race. And there are many parallels to be drawn between the revolution of different industries. The Amazon movement’s take-over of retail and shopping as we know it is similar to the death of native mobile apps beginning to happen today.
Death to Retail!
Back in the late 1800’s and early-to-mid 1900’s department stores (and retail as a whole) boomed in popularity. People fell in love with the idea that they could stroll into some department store and pick up everything from pots and pans to underwear and socks. The real aspect that enticed people was convenience. This was the birth of convenience as a demand for consumers. As the decades passed, consuming went largely unchanged…until Amazon.com was born.
Amazon started by selling books online, then rapidly expanded to being a marketplace for selling and buying anything a person can think of. Amazon became the place to go anytime anyone wanted to buy anything. Furthermore, with Amazon Prime, whatever you order will show up to your doorstep in two days (or less) for free. That is pure convenience. In an age where department stores thrived due to the convenience factor that inherently came along with them, Amazon was sure to revolutionize.
So is this the death to all retail as we know it?
Now that convenience is taken care of with Amazon, people are free to explore and seek out specialty items and knowledge. People don’t go to Amazon to shop around and explore. People go to Amazon knowing what they want. So in this new Amazon age, what will thrive is specialty stores (small boutiques, experience-based retail shops, etc.). Extremely focused and deep product line, knowledgable and helpful staff to offer guidance. In essence, a place for people to go when they want to shop around.
Death to Apps!
When Steve Jobs and the Apple team launched the App Store, it offered anyone the opportunity to become a developer of features for the iPhone. It literally crowdsourced ideas and features for the iPhone, which made it the powerhouse that is it today. It was revolutionary.
Apps flourished for the subsequent years to come. Apps still largely thrive today. But, that is all changing.
Apps thrived because they offered convenient features that anyone could access. If you are bored on a long car ride: no problem, just pull up the App store and in no time you were flinging virtual angry birds at a formation of virtual pigs. All the features you could ever think of were in one place. It was convenience at its finest.
But now an app isn’t the most convenient medium for accessing features. There is some friction involved in using an app. You need to download the app (which takes time and storage), sometimes costs money, drains battery life, and requires constant updates.
We have seen a record number of time spent using mobile apps, but the majority of that time is spent in just 5 apps.
Now, web developers are catching up and offering an even more convenient way for people to access features. Websites are becoming more mobile responsive, offering more app-like features (push notifications, password and data memory, etc.), and therefore, are offering a frictionless and more convenient way to access features. Which ultimately provides a better overall experience.
In an age where the App Store thrived due to offering a convenient marketplace, mobile responsive and progressive websites and web apps will revolutionize.
The Bottom Line
A revolution is taking place across different industries due to innovation and improving upon customer experience. There is something to be learned from the parallels drawn between different revolutions: offering a frictionless and streamlined customer experience is key. Those who do not adapt will die. The most important attributes to have are foresight and the ability to innovate.