As customers become more technology savvy with the advent of online shopping, retailers have never been under more pressure to provide a cutting-edge user experience. The eCommerce market is thriving, and according to comScore, the value of retail eCommerce in 2012 was $186 billion in the U.S. alone. Apps, electronics, toys and books are among the bestselling products on the Internet, with spending levels 15% higher on these goods than the year before.
It’s an exciting time, not just for shoppers on the hunt for a bargain, but for brands looking to boost revenue and reach out to new customers. Although investment in brick-and-mortar stores is on the decline, many retailers are now focusing their attention on how to gain greater visibility in the competitive online world, experimenting with unique selling points that their rivals don’t offer. One such opportunity to differentiate has been found in mCommerce.
What is mCommerce, exactly?
According to data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project in late 2012, 33% of American adults have a tablet computer, in contrast with 18% in 2011. When it comes to smartphones, the organization found that 45% of adults own one, rising to 66% within the 18-29 demographic. Of course, these findings are centered on U.S. consumers, but the popularity of mobile devices is unmistakable in Canada, the U.K., and other western countries. As many of these gadgets are Internet-enabled, this also opens the opportunity for consumers to purchase goods and services on the move, and this is known as mCommerce.
The growth expected in this market is rapid. As it stands, mCommerce sales in the U.S. during 2012 stood at close to $25 billion, an increase of 81% compared with figures from the year before. Findings from Mobile World Congress, held in Spain during February 2013, suggest that four-fifths of consumers plan to purchase products on their mobiles in the coming year. Crucially, the types of people engaging in mobile commerce are likely to have spending power – the Pew Internet and American Life Project also found that 68% of people in homes with an income of $75,000 or more own a smartphone.
What do consumers expect from the mCommerce experience?
Retailers are now turning to dedicated shopping cart software that helps their business to offer a mobile-optimized, aesthetically-pleasing and secure shopping experience for their customers on mobile devices. There is no reason why mCommerce services can’t be as popular as more graphically-intensive and detailed desktop websites either, as data from the UK research group Foresee shows that satisfaction levels are similar for user experiences on mobiles and PCs – coming in at 72% and 74%, respectively.
Consumers expect mCommerce platforms offered by retailers to work on all major operating systems, meaning that compatibility with iPhone, BlackBerry and Android interfaces can be a must. Research shows that it’s also important for buyers to be able to read descriptions about all products up for sale, as this helps them to make an informed buying decision.
As mobile shopping gains traction, the consequences for retailers who don’t keep up could be dire. It can be a sink or swim world in technology, and failing to adapt could see valuable orders from consumers placed elsewhere.