We are in a mobile personal computing era living in a mobile-centric real-time social way. Consumers are moving quickly from fixed, shared computers to highly personal mobile computers i.e. smartphones and tablets. The communication channels are also becoming highly personal with move from Facebook, Google+ to likes of Whatsapp, Instagram & WeChat. The media consumption patterns have also become mobile-centric from content perspective (music, movies, videos, books, news, etc). Shopping has also quickly moved from physical retail to e-commerce on fixed internet devices to m-commerce and app-centric experience.

While we have transformed on how, when, where and with whom we interact, there is a big trend in combining these together in a single platform to offer consumers a more tighter experience in their highly mobile-centric world. The best examples of these are evident from the rise of WeChat & Kakao Talk from a pure messaging platform to a highly interactive, social, m-commerce mobile platforms. The most powerful platforms of future are riding on the wave of integrating Social-Location-Mobile-Commerce (So-Lo-Mo-Co). Marketers love this trends as this is the best way to realize engagement, marketing, sale & support all in one place.

From a case perspective, Tencent’s WeChat has transformed beyond social ‘messaging’ into a powerful ‘marketing’ and ‘social-commerce” platform. The following screenshots which provides a glimpse of how WeChat business or platform model is the future of a holistic So-Lo-Mo-Co experience on WeChat:

WeChat MArketing Sales Engagement Platform

WeChat m-Commerce

WeChat Chats

Brands such as Xiaomi, one of the fastest growing smartphone brand in the world has been able to leverage full potential of platforms such as WeChat for viral marketing and to sell hundreds of thousands of devices. From McDonalds to Starbucks to local small business everyone is seeing and cashing in on WeChat’s network effect.

Counterpoint Research WeChat MAUs Growth

However, US’s biggest online retailer Amazon has yet to fully transform its “retail cloud” expertise into a social-mobile-retail strategy. Counterpoint estimates Amazon retail platform has more than 230 million active accounts but the growth has slowed as it is not completely focused on taking the high-scale m-commerce approach.

Amazon has been making big strides in improving its supply-chain-management with efforts resulting in industry leading services such as Amazon Prime, Amazon One Day Delivery, Amazon Fresh and to an extent possibility of using drones in future to quickly deliver to the customers. However, pre-shopping experience has yet to catch up with likes of WeChat or even emerging players such as Flipkart of India which are highly focused on mobile-commerce strategy to drive scale, engagement and commerce. Amazon’s mobile commerce experience is first of all not consistent across all the platforms, secondly its inferior & fragmented compared to these fast-growing mobile-first commerce platforms, apps.

Amazon should focus on what it does best – shaping the shopping experiences and it should be in forefront on the So-Lo-Mo-Co boom else it will be difficult to grow and compete in the next big growth markets such as China, India, Latin America & South East Asia. Integrating social (engagement), location (context), mobile (personalize), commerce (shopping) all together in one place is the way to go. We have already seen competing internet/retail/social companies are trying to exactly tap into this trend:

  • Facebook – Whatsapp – Karma (acquisitions)
  • Rakuten – Viber (acquisition)
  • WeChat – JD.com (partnership)
  • Kakao Talk – Daum (merger)
  • Amazon -???? (acquisition/merger/partnership)

We believe selling zero margin “Amazon” branded hardware won’t propel Amazon forward; rather adopting a horizontal, social, location, mobile commerce approach will. Amazon should soon pivot its e-commerce portal to look at the shopping experience in a completely novel, modern & m-commerce way and for that Amazon either have to develop and in-house integrated engagement solution or eventually acquire/partner with the remaining of the bigger & popular platforms such as – Naver (Line)  or likes of smaller ones such as Wanelo, Shopkick, Fancy or Mallzee as a starting point. Time is running out for Amazon before one of these big players such as Facebook or Rakuten or Tencent disrupt the US retail landscape.

About Author

Neil is a sought-after frequently-quoted Industry Analyst with a wide spectrum of rich multifunctional experience. He is a knowledgeable, adept, and accomplished strategist. In the last 11 years he has offered expert strategic advice that has been highly regarded across different industries especially in telecom. Prior to Counterpoint, Neil worked at Strategy Analytics as a Senior Analyst (Telecom). Neil also had an opportunity to work with Philips Electronics in multiple roles. He is also an IEEE Certified Wireless Professional with a Master of Science (Telecommunications & Business) from the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.