mCommerce Last Year, Today, and Beyond

Posted on September 05, 2012
By Taimour Azizuddin

A couple of weeks ago InMobi released its Q2 Mobile Media Consumption research results for the US and the UK. The study examines how mobile users around the globe consume media and how trends are evolving over time. The latest results reveal some interesting changes in consumer behavior. Mobile has been an essential component of media consumption activities for consumers in both of these markets for quite a while now. In the past, however, late technology adopters were using mobile in a more limited fashion than early adopters; we now see increased mobile behavior across a much wider set of mobile activities among late adopters. This is best illustrated through mCommerce usage rates. This table shows the percentage of mobile data users in each market who use any mCommerce features (including bill payments and purchases of digital and physical goods or services):

In the US, we estimated annual mCommerce sales by comparing these mCommerce usage rates to the average reported spend per user, the US population, and Nielsen device penetration rates.

These figures compare quite closely with eMarketer estimates, which are $11.6 billion for 2012 and $17 billion for 2013. We expect these increasing usage rates to have an exponential effect on mCommerce sales; as consumers begin to use mCommerce, they benefit from its unique advantages and increasingly conduct more transactions on mobile. For example, the further a consumer is from a retail outlet, the greater the time and economic cost of shopping there. However, mCommerce eliminates these costs by providing instant access to retail in any location. Highly portable devices such as smartphones are thus particularly conducive to time sensitive and convenience purchases. Meanwhile, large purchases, often shared decisions within a household, are easier to shop for, evaluate, and purchase through tablets, which tend to be passed around and shared at home during leisure time. In many situations, mobile devices are enabling more economic and convenient methods of shopping. This impact is not just at home or on the go, but in physical retail locations as well. A recent Deloitte study found that shoppers using smartphones are noticeably more likely to convert in-store, even when they use a third party mobile app or website. Marketers can use these unique capabilities to their advantage by creating mobile strategies that work in harmony with other channels, including physical retail stores, online and print catalogs. The Walmart app, for example, offers a set of features that allow remote users to shop anywhere and make shopping more convenient for those in its physical stores. Mobile shoppers in any location can browse, search, and buy Walmart.com products, and add products to a favorites list. Shoppers in-store can scan barcodes to see prices and order prescription refills, rather than waiting in line. 

(photo courtesy of walmart.com)

In another example, the mobile app for US grocery store and pharmacy Brookshires offers a store locator, shopping lists, recipes, coupons, special deals, points, and an ordering system for its deli taking into account the needs of shoppers in-store as well as those planning their shopping trips from elsewhere, and making it quicker and easier for everyone to find and purchase what they need. Shoppers in these stores thus also have more of an incentive to use these apps rather than those of a competitor. With increased concern around showrooming, the phenomenon of shoppers visiting stores to evaluate items but ultimately making purchases online or through mobile, a comprehensive and engaging mobile app can help retailers keep their brand top of mind and convert more shoppers in-store and through digital channels. The majority of mobile users who dont yet use mCommerce expect to begin conducting transactions on mobile in the next 1 year. Designing mCommerce applications with the unique use cases of mobile in mind and taking time sensitivity, constantly changing environmental contexts, and user priorities into account will allow marketers and brands to take full advantage of this rapidly growing user base.