The increasing use of smartphones for online shopping shows no sign of slowing down, with the number of mobile users set to reach 457 million in 2019. Recent research by Barclays also suggests that consumers are expected to spend more than £53 billion a year using their smartphones and tablets by 2024, compared to the £9.7 billion spent today.
Online fashion retail appears to be particularly fuelled by mobile users, with 35% of Europeanshoppers, who own a smartphone or tablet, using their device to buy fashion items online. The number of UK shoppers using their smartphones to search for apparel, for example, jumped by 54% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2015, according to data released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Meanwhile, the use of tablets in online fashion shopping has also increased by 11%, over the same period.
Next to clothing, electronics are very popular items to buy via an m-commerce platform. According to new research, conducted by Ipsos and commissioned by ING, almost one in three respondents in Europe has bought electronics in the past 12 months on their smartphone or tablet. Other popular products bought via mobile devices include games, groceries and music.
Considering all of the above, it’s a no surprise that by 2024 nearly half of all retail sales (42%) are expected to involve a mobile device, making mobile the fastest growing retail segment.
Do retailers have a mobile strategy, though?
Data shows that only 30% of merchants have an m-strategy, with the rest of them not offering a mobile website or a mobile app for consumers. Interestingly, less than 3% of merchants believe their business is at the cutting-edge, when it comes to being mobile-ready.
When asked about future mobile strategies, less than a third of retailers seemed to have a clear plan about the type of investment in mobile they needed. Of those that did, developing a mobile website (13%), followed by a mobile app and offering mobile payment options (11%), were top priorities.
Some merchants are reportedly losing about £12 billion in sales a year simply because they do not have mobile websites. However, there are a number of retailers who have managed to effectively grasp mobile in their overall marketing strategy, having realised that ignoring this trend would be a missed opportunity.
Macy’s, for example, who was named 2014 Mobile Retailer of the Year, has embraced image recognition, beacons, mobile payments and event-driven m-commerce in its mobile strategy, bringing excitement to the shopping experience in a way few other retailers have done. The retailer’s efforts in mobile have paid off, with Macy’s brand value having increased by 383% between the spring of 2013 and 2014.
Walmart, Mobile Retailer of the Year first runner’s-up, is another retailer who has heavily invested in its mobile strategy, which now offers consumers a mobile-enabled click-and-collect grocery service and a mobile-first banking account. In 2014, for example, this strong digital focus led to a 70% of all Walmart’s Thanksgiving traffic coming from mobile, and to the tremendous success of their new mobile app’s ‘savings’ feature.
Considering all of the above and the fact that m-commerce is expected to overtake desktop ecommerce in the next couple of years, it’s clear that in order to stay relevant and offer customers a seamless shopping experience, retailers need to embrace mobile in their overall omni-channel strategy.
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