By Lee Cash
One of the reasons for the growth in m-commerce is 4G smartphone technology, which offers better browsing capabilities; mobile sites load much faster now than they did a year ago. There are more free apps and m-commerce enabled sites that are able to process transactions and most contracts now include mobile data as standard.
Of course as smartphone popularity increases, other opportunities also appear. According to Econsultancy, 40% of shoppers in the UK admit to showrooming – comparing prices or product availability on their smartphones whilst they are shopping on the high street. With this practice continuing to rise, especially among the millennial generation, will retailers finally start to embrace showrooming and use it to their advantage?
The mobile wallet
It isn’t just in online shopping that mobile devices are becoming useful, but also in stores as a mobile wallet. Even offline, people are increasingly using a phone case with space for cards instead of an actual purse or wallet and now that mobile apps can store credit card details etc. it’s almost too easy to buy via a mobile device. Apps like Google Wallet enable users to purchase items by tapping contactless payment points in shops and Zapp, a mobile payment app developed by Vocalink, lets users pay for items through a direct link to their bank account. As well as using mobiles to pay for items, consumers are starting to use them to store e-tickets, coupons and loyalty cards and the convenience of a digital wallet will no doubt encourage shoppers to use it.
Consumers are becoming more impatient and distracted when browsing online so retailers need to have a fast, mobile-optimised e-commerce site. This will only be highlighted further as the super-fast 4G connection becomes more widely available.
Unlimited connectivity has also helped to increase the number of consumer touch-points, altering the way that consumers interact with brands online. The younger generation are almost constantly connected to their phones and as many as 90% of them sleep with their phones by their bed.
Consumers expect to engage with brands on social media and have access to reviews and opinions on-the-go via their mobile devices.
More targeted, localised advertising
Big data has made it much easier for advertisers to deliver targeted mobile advertising to consumers based on their buying habits, lifestyle and even location. Retailers can now use location-based mobile marketing to target consumers with local adverts as they browse on their mobile devices or ‘check-in’ to places.
Starbucks have signed up with Foursquare, the location-based social networking app, to target consumes with adverts when they are near Starbucks outlets, based on their previous check-ins and Twitter is currently trialling keyword-based advertising that businesses can target users who tweet certain words from their mobile in real-time.
So Costa could bid on the keywords ‘tired’ and ‘caffeine’ and if someone tweets ‘Really tired this morning – desperately need caffeine. #HateMondays’, Costa could run a promoted tweet for that user offering a discount in the closest Costa Coffee.
Negative sentiment filters are also being trialled so someone tweeting ‘Caffeine overload – may never be tired again. #Hyper’ would not see the promoted tweet.
In June 2013, the IAB (UK) reported that although 74% of the top 50 UK retailers had mobile-optimised sites, only 8% had tablet-optimised sites. This is surprising because one third of the UK uses a tablet – a figure expected to rise to more than 50% by 2017.
This is in part because of the present affordability of technology; tablets and 3G phones are becoming cheaper and cheaper. In 2007, when the first iPhone went on sale in the UK, a contract cost £35 a month, plus £269 for the phone outright. Now they’re available from as little as £21 a month, with no upfront cost for the phone, so more people can afford them and use them to buy online.
Tablets are seeing the same trend, with Tesco offering a tablet for £119 and Aldi for just £79.99. The cost of a good mobile browsing experience is decreasing, giving more people access to 24/7 connectivity. People are even using mobile devices for everything in their lives, from shopping and home security to music and tickets.
The Multi-Channel Consumer
Consumers expect to be able to access brand websites across multiple channels and devices; this is likely to be a big thing for advertisers to tap into this year, as they market more effectively across multiple channels. Adverts on TV now encourage viewers to interact with the brand on social media and in fact, 60% of people tweet while watching TV.
According to The Drum, 70% of UK consumers admit to “content grazing” – multitasking on two or more devices at once – whilst 45% of UK consumers start an activity on one screen and continue it on another. They may research a holiday on a laptop during their lunch break, purchase flights on their tablet on the way home and then check-in on their smartphone at the airport.
Hands-on, not hands free
The world of mobile is becoming more innovative, with more activities becoming possible on handheld devices.
However, practicality of the device itself is not enough and m-commerce sites should be product-led, easily searchable and simple to use.
Enhanced mobile browsing experiences help to improve this but retailers need to focus on their product data, which should be comprehensive and up-to-date so that consumers are presented with the same, correct and relevant information across multiple channels and devices.
About the author
Lee Cash is MD. With far-reaching experience and a degree in Materials Engineering, Lee first discovered sales and marketing during his sabbatical year working at Bath University’s Student Union. Since then he has worked within roles involving sales, project management and strategic partner development, before teaming up with Rob Durkin and Chris Conn to form FusePump in 2009.