JANUARY 24, 2012
Tablet shopping on the rise as frequency of use grows
Apps aren’t always the answer to engaging with consumers on mobile devices—especially when it comes to m-commerce. According to research from rich media company Zmags, very few Americans prefer to use mobile apps for shopping activities. Instead, consumers strongly prefer purchasing through web and mobile browsers.
When Zmags surveyed US consumers who owned a PC or laptop computer about their shopping methods, 87% said they preferred using websites and mobile sites, compared to 14% who most liked shopping from websites via smartphone and just 4% who preferred to shop using mobile or tablet apps.
Although smartphone and tablet owners display a preference for browser-based mobile purchases, a significant number of US retailers have created mobile apps that enable commerce activities. Survey data from mobile-shopping company AisleBuyer showed in December 2011 that 19% of US retailers had a mobile app to connects consumers to their ecommerce site.
Retail apps may be of greater value to smartphone users, for whom the browsing experience is more limited in nature. There’s also opportunity for tablet commerce apps to provide a more catalog-style approach, giving users more interactive features.
Meanwhile, the tablet commerce category as a whole is growing significantly. According to Zmags, during the 2011 holiday shopping season, 87% of tablet owners used their device for shopping. Not only do users report better buying experiences than with smartphones, but tablet owners are using their devices frequently for m-commerce. According to Zmags, half of tablet owners are using tablets for shopping on at least a weekly basis.
eMarketer projects that m-commerce sales will grow more than fourfold over the next few years, from $6.7 billion in 2011 to $31 billion in 2015. If consumers continue to prefer browsers over mobile apps for shopping, retailers should consider investing more in mobile-optimized ecommerce sites. Moreover, marketers should consider designing engaging, tablet-specific ecommerce experiences for tablet users.
Mobile Commerce’s Time Has Arrived
It is eye-catching when a consultancy revises a market forecast upward in the midst of an economic downturn. That is exactly what ABI Research did with its forecast of mobile sales of physical goods in North America. In January 2009 it projected m-commerce sales would reach $544 million this year, up 57% over 2008—impressive in its own right. But in late October, ABI upped its forecast, saying sales would top $750 million in 2009, a whopping 117% annual growth rate. M-commerce’s time has arrived, and it is an easy bet that sales in 2010 will pass the $1 billion mark.
Whereas consumers once limited their mobile phone purchases to downloadable ringtones and games, today they are using their devices to buy books, apparel and other items associated with online shopping on a PC.
Retailers Grapple with Measuring Social Commerce
A number of major retailers have established a presence on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. For now, retailers are intent to learn from these experiments and are not too concerned with driving e-commerce sales. Building brand awareness and a solid fan base and generating leads have been deemed sufficient. But in 2010, retailers will become more serious about trying to measure social media’s impact on sales. One question retailers will grapple with is how much a large fan base translates into sales or brand loyalty.
Noah Elkin, Senior Analyst
Mobile: Moving into the Mainstream
Although mobile usage is firmly entrenched among consumers, marketers still view mobile as an emerging channel, hence the long-running (and always unfulfilled) expectations about the “year of mobile.” 2010 promises to be a little different. Aided by a flurry of acquisition activity, an influx of venture capital funding and growing brand adoption in the latter half of 2009, the year ahead will see mobile continue its shift toward the marketing mainstream.
Mobile ad spending will rise from $416 million in 2009 to $593 million in 2010 as more brands and agencies integrate mobile into their marketing mix. And if not an outright arms race, Google’s $750 million purchase of AdMob is certain to prompt greater interest in the mobile space from agencies, brands and media companies alike.
The fusion of mobile and social and the appetite for apps (among both consumers and brands) will continue unabated. In fact, location- and social-aware apps and utilities will be a key avenue for brands looking to engage consumers on the go. Cheaper smartphones and smarter feature phones will help marketers bridge the gap with consumers, but the onus is still on marketers to provide consumers with a measure (and measurable degree) of utility, relevance and entertainment.