Last year mobile saw significant gains in commerce, traffic and search, according to several recent reports. With smartphone and tablet penetration continuing to grow, mobile’s role in retail can only get bigger over the next 12 months.
Mobile commerce sales increased 81 percent in 2012, reaching a total $25 billion and accounting for 11 percent overall ecommerce sales, according to a new report from eMarketer. As both consumers and retailers continue to embrace mobile, eMarketer expects mobile’s share of ecommerce sales to reach even higher in 2013 and account for 15 percent of the total.
“This holiday season, we saw not only some of the greatest adoption of mobile devices and tablets as shopping devices, we also saw one of the largest pushes by retailers and brands to reach the mobile consumer, more so than any other year,” said Clark Fredricksen, vice president at eMarketer, New York.
“It is important to look at these results not in the vacuum of mobile,” he said. “While, yes, consumers are buying more than ever before on mobile devices, mobile still represents a sliver of the overall ecommerce picture and a tiny fraction of the overall retail picture.
“The reason why it is so important that retailers recognize the increase in mobile adoption is that mobile is becoming more important as a shopping device. What we are seeing is many consumers are starting the shopping process on a phone if that is not the place they end up making a purchase.”
Mobile traffic grows
Other recent figures also support the growing role that mobile is having in the shopping process.
Mobile accounted for 18 percent of paid search budgets in the fourth quarter, with search ad impressions for tablets up 212 percent year-over-year and up 20 percent for smartphones, according to IgnitionOne. The spend on tablets increased 163 percent while more smartphones it was up 87 percent.
New data from IBM reveals that 22.7 percent of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site in December, up from 14.6 percent in 2011. Additionally, mobile sales exceeded 15.8 percent, up from 11 percent.
EMarketer points to the rise in tablet shopping as one of the important trends expected to impact the growth of mobile commerce this year.
Tablets are expected to produce the bulk of mcommerce sales over the next four years because they offer a far-more compelling shopping experience than smartphones.
In 2013, consumers are expected to spend $24 billion shopping on their tablets, per eMarketer. In 2014, that number will grow to $34 billion and reach $61 billion by 2016.
Tablets already accounted for a bigger percentage of mobile commerce sales than smartphones in 2012, at 6.2 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. By 2016, eMarketer forecasts tablets will have a 16.9 percent share of ecommerce sales while smartphones will bring in 6.7 percent.
Other trends likely to impact the growth of mobile commerce include the expanding number of smartphone shoppers who are affecting commerce across all channels and the growing number of consumers who enjoy purchasing via their smartphones.
Consumers shopping habits are morphing into shopping minutes throughout their day as opposed to long shopping trips. By having a strong mobile program, retailers can better take advantage of those moments when a consumer’s curiosity about a product is peaked by a TV ad or when someone is trying to get some shopping done while waiting in a doctor’s office.
With mobile becoming a key channel in terms of shopping, it is imperative that merchants make mobile a seamless experience because a satisfying mobile shopping experience not only delivers a good first impression but it can be a lasting one as well.
The results suggest mobile’s role in shopping will only continue to grow as consumers get more comfortable using their devices.
“Once a consumer owns a smartphone, they get a taste for the types of deals, product information and storefronts that are at their fingertips through the smartphone experience and their reliance on the device ramps up quickly,” Mr. Fredricksen said. “This is something that we’ve definitely seen over the past six months or so.”
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York