The Connected Customer is Here

Two separate reports from research firms Gartner and IDC were released on Wednesday showing the global market for Windows PCs has dropped for the last four consecutive quarters. The drop in shipments is limited to the consumer market, where tablet sales have been steadily increasing and have now far outpaced those of traditional computers. Why is this significant? Because it’s a sign that the consumer  is shifting away from the desktop/laptop way of using the web and, instead, they’ve brought the web onto the sofa, taken it down the pub with them and on the bus to pass the time; these connected customers, as IBM calls them, have integrated the web into ever increasing aspects of their lives, through smartphones & tablets, and they expect businesses to respond to that.

The drop in PC shipments showed a continued & increased decline in the first quarter of 2013, with IDC’s report showing shipments of desktop PCs & laptops dropped by 13.9%, while Gartner’s report puts the figure at a slightly less bleak 11.2% drop. Such a big and consistent shift suggests the tablet-powered connected customer is definitely here and gaining in numbers. There is a trend for consumers to “upgrade” to a tablet instead of replacing a home PC, especially in homes with more than one PC.

The connected customer isn’t just about technologies, however, or whether you have a mobile-friendly website; it’s about radical changes in consumer behaviour & expectations. These are the kind of changes that put Blockbuster out of business, and Kodak in trouble, because they didn’t pay attention to the way consumer behaviour has been changing with increased access to digital formats & the internet. This change in consumer behaviour will impact almost everyone’s business models so it’s importnat to pay attention.

We’ve been working with clients to capitalise on the number of online sales attributed to tablets & smartphones for some time, and these connected customers are more likely to use tablets and mobiles to access the web on the move or while watching TV. They use apps, blogs & social networks to influence & inform their decision-making and purchasing behaviour. They watch video on demand and research products & services at times that suit them, not you. The rise of the connected customer is redefining the landscape for customer engagement and changing the trusted old models of who your market is, where they are and how to reach them.

If you don’t already have an understanding of how these connected customers affect your business, it’s time to reconsider your web strategy.