Costumers are using smartphones and tablets to make purchases and research products and prices before making a purchase, or choosing a product; meaning that mobile may be an important channel for sales and engaging potential shoppers.
In spite of warnings and encouragement from experts, the vast majority of businesses have really done nothing to optimize their websites or business practices for customers using mobile devices.
What follows are four facts that may encourage small business owners and managers to reconsider the mobile channel as an opportunity for sales.
Fact 1: Mobile devices are found everywhere
More than nine out of ten American adults have a mobile device, according to a June 2013 report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Of these, between 55 and 58 percent use a smartphone, capable of displaying websites or running mobile applications. This means that roughly half of the U.S. adult population could make an e-commerce purchase from anywhere they have a mobile phone connection.
This data is significant, not simply because more than one-in-three adults in the United States owns a tablet, but also because tablet ownership had nearly doubled between April 2012 and May 2013 and because 56-percent of American households with an income of at least $75,000 per year have tablets according to Pew.
Nearly a third of monthly visitors to a typical online retail website use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets exclusively, according to an August 2013 article from comScore vice president Andrew Lipsman.
“Not only is retail one of the highest penetration activities across all digital media platforms today,” Lipsman wrote, “but in June it actually had a higher penetration within smartphones (90 percent) and tablets (91 percent) than on desktop computers (78 percent). Given its relative importance on mobile platforms, retailers should not be surprised then to see an increasingly meaningful percentage of their digital visitors being sourced from smartphones and tablets.”
Fact 3: mCommerce spending should reach about $38.4 billion this year.
One persistent argument against investing in mCommerce (or mobile commerce) optimization has been the suggestion that while there may be a lot of mobile traffic there are not really that many mobile transactions.
As a counterpoint, in January 2013 eMarketer estimated that the U.S. mCommerce sales would reach $38.4 billion this year, up some 55.7 percent from about $24.66 billion in 2012. If the eMarketer estimate is accurate, about 15 percent of all U.S. ecommerce sales will come from a mobile device — that is more than one-in-seven ecommerce transactions.
Fact 4: Mobile-aided commerce is on the rise
About 58 percent of U.S. smartphone and tablet owners used their mobile device to learn about products or prices either while in a physical store or while traveling to a store, according to August 2013 survey data from website testing and personalization firm Maxymiser. This sort of mobile-aided commerce could be very important for online sales in at least two ways.
First, pure-play ecommerce business may be able to earn sales from showrooming shoppers who are standing in a physical store, but comparing prices online. In this scenario, having a mobile-optimized site may help a small Internet store beat a large competitor. Second, multi-channel retailers with both a physical store and a mobile optimized online presence, may be able to earn additional sales or even better serve customers.