Mobile commerce is here and it’s growing. Today 8% of women are most likely to buy on a mobile device (over in-store and via desktop/laptop), and 24% have made a purchase via mobile at some point. Commerce on smartphones is projected to reach $31 billion in 2016. While there is no doubt that there will be more direct purchases from hand held devices, the biggest impact on retail is yet to come: Its influence on the rest of the purchase funnel.
Awareness and discovery
As with other elements of content, shopping media has been transformed by the development and growth of smart phones and tablets. While mobile has bolstered overall viewing to platforms such as video (video viewing on phones and tablets increased 300% and 360% respectively last year), it has also significantly increasing the time people shop. As Digital is making store hours obsolete, mobile is slowly changing the way we view shopping. Window shopping is giving way to “couch shopping.”
Consistent with the rest of the online publishing industry, the percentage of retail mobile traffic is now in the double digits, and in many cases accounting for over 25% of a retail publisher’s overall traffic. As Smart phones and tablets have made it easier to surf the web, it is also that much easier to shop online. Beyond the purpose driven need to make a particular online transaction, browsing is growing. Sixty percent of all mobile users and 80% of tablet owners using their device for shopping, report beginning that research at home. Like couch surfing it is becoming yet another lifestyle activity and form of entertainment.
No part of the purchase funnel will feel more impact from mobile than consideration. More than just shopper convenience, mobile has translated into consumer empowerment. What once required the diligence of doing your homework in in advance of a purchase, now simply means pulling out your phone. A variety of apps, along with mobile optimized shopper comparison sites, now let consumers compare prices at any time and in any place (including store aisles). Bar scan apps such as Shop Savvy are providing the ability to compare pricing at the actual store shelf, before the point of purchase. When searching for local products and services, 45% of consumers turn to their mobile device first, and 46% exclusively use mobile.
And this activity leads to purchases: 60% of smartphone users and 53% of tablet users have completed purchases after researching on their mobile device.
Digital coupons are ceasing to be something you print and bring to a store, instead becoming something you just open on your phone and acquire, even at the last minute. Mobile coupons boast a 10% redemption rate compared to 1% for traditional coupons. Mobile coupons’ portability and convenience will not only increase general usage, but also the variety of ways brands and retailers can employ coupons as a tool for customer acquisition and retention (i.e. mobile coupons dispensed in-store as a thank you for a purchase). With the ability to be tied to individual users, digital coupons represent less than 1% of all coupons – a huge opportunity for growth.
Even bigger than price is the mobility of social influences. Four in ten (41%) people have checked reviews on their mobile devices while in stores – and that number jumps to 73% for higher-consideration purchases in the consumer electronics category.
Offline, online, “nowline”
If digital brought the store to the home, mobile is bringing digital to the store. Beyond just transactional clicks, mobile’s impact on retail is already being felt at the store level. Much has recently been written about the concept of “showrooming,” where consumers do their research at the physical store, but ultimately make their transaction online. As referenced above, in many ways mobile has the potential be an equalizer for retailers in combining the information, perspective, and reviews of digital with the “touch” of the physical store presence. Many retailers are already moving fast in developing apps that can be utilized in-store for product information, price comparisons, floor maps, and even ability to earn loyalty points.
We are at just the beginning of digital retail, and it’s even earlier for mobile. For retailers, it’s time to explore beyond just the mobile optimization of their sites. For brands, the opportunity to engage with their digital customers out of home, and on the aisle will only get bigger. We are at just the first click of the mobile retail iceberg.