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Mobile and Shopping: How it is Affecting Consumers and Retailers

Mobile Commerce Insider Featured Article

March 18, 2015

Mobile and Shopping: How it is Affecting Consumers and Retailers

By Michael Guta
TMCnet Contributing Writer

In 2012 the global smartphone adoption surpassed the 1 billion mark, and that total has increased to 1.75 billion in 2014. Forrester (News - Alert) research expects that number to reach to 3.5 billion by 2019, which will make up 59 percent of the subscriber population. With smartphones now available for as little as $30, it won’t be long before every phone becomes a smartphone, ushering in a new era of communication and commerce that connects everyone around the world. The technology on these devices has forever changed how we play, shop and work, and consumers, retailers and employers are finding their way as they try to gauge the effect it is having in their environment.

Smartphones have empowered consumers by giving them access to information no matter where they are. A research created in conjunction with the Google (News - Alert) Shopper Marketing Agency Council has revealed 90 percent of smartphone shoppers use their device for pre-shopping activities. According to the report 58 percent used it to find location/directions, 57 percent to browse, 44 percent to make price comparisons and 44 percent to find hours; while a group in the 30 percent range use it to find where specific products are sold, product availability in-store, product information and product reviews.

Even though only 19 percent finally made their purchase on their mobile device, the report makes it abundantly clear, smartphones have become an integral part in the decision-making process of consumers before they make a purchase. Increased participation from consumers is being driven by more mature mobile platforms from retailers as they continue to increase their investment for this ecosystem.

The shopping experience is no longer singular, and retailers have to take this into consideration. It is essential to have an omni-channel experience that includes brick-and-mortar stores, websites, social media, mobile and consumer engagement. Without a comprehensive approach, the 90 percent of smartphone shoppers that use their device for pre-shopping activities will go elsewhere.

The Google report also revealed shoppers who use mobile more, buy more across all categories, which should drive retailers to increase their mobile presence with better platforms—mobile sites are preferred by in-store shoppers over apps 65 to 35 percent. The implication for businesses is that mobile marketing is no longer an option, it is a clear mandate if they want to remain relevant in their segment.  If properly deployed, it can get customers to the store and keep them there.

With 79 percent of smartphone owners classifying themselves as smartphone shoppers, it is only a matter of time before mobile commerce becomes the preferred choice for shopping. According to Goldman Sachs, by 2018 there will be as much mobile commerce as there was in e-commerce in 2014, which was $626 billion. As smartphones and tablets continue to displace desktops and laptops as the primary computing solution for consumers, the way they shop will also be carried out on these devices.

The smartphone is a device that is always on, and it is increasingly becoming the biggest influencer in the decision-making process of shoppers, whether they are inside or outside of the store. As consumers become more knowledgeable, their decision-making process will be based on their experience on their mobile device. Those companies that go the extra mile to create a seamless experience across all their channels will reap the benefits.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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