Emerging Platforms Research

What Effect Do Smartphones Have on Ecommerce?

Posted by Morgan Sims on September 10th, 2013 at 8:29 am

In the first half of 2013, United States citizens spent $10 billion in mobile commerce and could exceed $25 billion by the end of the year, according to a recent study by comScore. Mobile commerce is becoming more widely used and has the potential to eclipse Ecommerce because of its ease of use and convenience. Yet again, the way consumers engage and make purchases is changing and marketers and advertisers must meet them there. But let’s first understand what effects smartphones are having on Ecommerce.

Enabling Purchases from Anywhere

Image via Flickr by Sam Igloria

It’s clear how easy mobile commerce makes shopping. A few clicks and a shopping cart is full; considerably easier than traveling to a store and browsing through products. And with the amount of brands offering free returns and extended return windows, the risk is minimal for buyers.

Mobile shopping has untethered online shoppers from their desktop PCs and laptops (because gosh, that was so inconvenient wasn’t it?). Waiting in line, sitting in an airport, or even lying on a beach are the new storefronts since mobile purchases can be made anywhere with cell phone reception or Wi-Fi, making the online shopping experience just as important as the in store experience.

Encouraging Impulse Buys

The ease of ordering via mobile device has led to an increased amount of impulse purchases. Many brands allow consumers to save their debit or credit card information to the app making check-out a breeze. Survey respondents reported that most impulse purchases included clothes, books and music.

Knowing that consumers are more likely to impulsively buy items online, exclusive on-line sales are successful because their perceived urgency encourages consumers to make quick buying decisions, and the ease of making a transaction allows less time for second-guessing.

Forcing Retail Stores to Change

Image via Flickr by J Sainsbury

Consumers are also using their phones in-store to look up online reviews, compare prices, and find coupons. Many brands offer coupons and deals on apps or through emails that must be shown at the time of purchase and are often scanned, replacing mailer coupons. Shoppers might even use an app, such as the eBay or Amazon app, to compare prices and reviews while in the store, making it more difficult for brands to increase prices. Been to an Apple store lately? You can use the Apple Store app EasyPay feature to scan your item in the store and use your Apple ID to purchase it, without ever having to deal with a genius.

But the battle between online and retail stores has proven to be good news for consumers, since it has forced retail stores to incentivize in-store purchases. Many brands have implemented price matching policies and provide discounts for checking in on social media to receive a coupon or free item.

Another way brands are capitalizing on mobile commerce is by offering ordering options in store when customers want an item that is out of stock. By simply setting up Wi-Fi and providing tablets, stores allow customers to order items while they are still in the store eliminating the chance that they will lose the desire to purchase after they have left the store. Yet another option available for consumers to make their buying experience better is in-store pickup. Buyers can have an out of stock item shipped to a local store, then see it in person before they decide to make the purchase

Improving Mobile Design

If someone visits an e-commerce site from their phone and it doesn't display correctly or functionally, the chances of them making a purchase are slim. Recent years have seen that stores have funneled money into optimizing the mobile shopping experience. In the same study mentioned above, of those who use smartphones to engage in retail, 78% of the time is spent using app platforms, while tablet users engage in retail 56% of the time on web browsers.

This has caused brands to optimize both their web and app platforms to make them user friendly and attractive. Younger generations are accustomed to making purchases on mobile devices or computers, but the process must remain streamlined and simple for them to continue purchasing.

Opportunities in the mobile commerce space are ripe for the picking. As more consumers move toward mobile to make purchases, expect to meet their needs with new innovations and improved experiences.

2 Responses to “What Effect Do Smartphones Have on Ecommerce?”

  1. Andrewboon says:

    Interesting article. Mobile technology has changed the consumer shopping experience. Retailers should embrace mobile technologies to stay in touch with consumers. Read an interesting whitepaper on the topic that readers will also find very useful “Thinking about tomorrow: Post recession strategies for retailers” @ http://bit.ly/10XoIQa

  2. Very interesting article. Just this year, we launched the Suranas Jewelove mobile website & mobile e-commerce store for our retail store.

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