The term “internet” originates from the year I was born, however the technology concerning this innovation was invented by the US army years before. In short; internet has been around for some time!
My generation (and every other generation before me that consciously experienced the offline world), is still amazed by the infinite possibility that this technology offers. The Millennials (born roughly after 1980 and before 2000) think of the internet as water running from the tab. For them it is just there and has ever been there.
Nowadays if we want to surf on the internet, most of us still need to sit somewhere near an ‘internet broadcasting point’ (a desktop PC or a laptop at best) to start up some tediously slow PC and log on. When we finally do log on, the problems only start. We have to plow through loads and loads of unrelevant-, unpersonalized information before we get to the core.
Thirty years after it’s birth, the internet still turns out to be pretty unimpressive. It is ineffective and it certainly is inefficient! Another thirty years on i think we will laugh at its’ incompetence. I’ll tell you why……
ON =~ OFF
Consumers progressively buy online and most customers take their bearings online. Comparing this experience to offline shopping, online shopping is proving to be inadequate. Offline- versus online shopping is a clear KO: offline versus online 6 – 0! I Ok, might be slightly exaggerating here, but bear with me for a moment:
- Slow: quick (24 hour) delivery is still miles slower than direclty taking your purchase home from a shop.
- Not personal: Internet cookies can tell me “what i might also like or what others bought”, but that cannot compensate for al lack of personal and tailored advise by a human being.
- Wooden interaction: FAQ’s or inadequate- chatbots (AKA customer support agents on a timer) cannot compete with direct, face-to-face interaction.
- Low sense of hospitality: in stores i can walk right through the door and chances are the staff knows me if i am a regular. This opposed to online. I can order online as often as i want but every time i return i have to log on with an ID (heaven knows how many different ID’s i have to manage already after years of surfing).
- No try-before-you-buy: showing pictures and playing sounds are still pretty lame ways of trying to make online products tangible. It cannot compare to swinging a new tennis racket before you buy.
- No context awareness: if my car breaks down i can call my insurer or the towing service. I can reach themby phone from wherever i am. However, if i want to get my new car insured on the spot using the internet, i have to own a smartphone. Then finding out my insurer doesn’t support a mobile website.
Pretty unimpressive if you ask me! Internet trends like: co-browsing, realtime search and -collaboration, rich content and open ID are interesting developments. All of them are means of bringing the online experience closer to offline.
ON => OFF
To give the internet any ‘raison d’ etre’ we need it to become (more) like the offline world. We also need the internet to stop existing as an entity. The internet needs to be where we are. It needs to integrate into our mobile phones quicker. There should be coverage the same way there is coverage for mobile calling.
Even better, it needs to integrate into other functionalities to be really practical. Google maps and GPS navigation is merely a good start, streaming video clips into my PS3 feels like a step up. Furthermore, internet marketeers need to listen to oldschool marketing colleagues to acquire knowledge about their customers instead of their webstats.
Internet shopping is still on the rise, but i do not fear that my local bakery or tailor will be swept off the map any time soon. I think the internet has a long way to go. Only when online functionality matches offline, the internet will have one superpromoter extra.
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