The hottest new up-and-comer for every online retailer is the mobile marketplace. The rise of the smartphone and, more recently, of the tablet has created an amazing opportunity for online retailers with the vision to tailor their retail offerings for a smaller screen size. In fact, the trend towards mobile commerce has gained such momentum that the growth of mobile sales has surpassed the growth of more typical online sales, according to a survey completed by e-commerce trend analyst Internet Retailer.
This effect has largely been driven by retailers who are keen to grab lucrative tablet- and smartphone-owner demographics, with specialised offerings such as full-colour digital catalogues that offer types of touch-screen interactivity not really available to those shopping with a computer. Major cosmetics manufacturer Estee Lauder is one of the most well-known companies leading the way into the mobile commerce (or ‘m-commerce’) future, with an expected 68% increase in mobile sales over the previous year. However, retailers across the spectrum are following suit, with almost 70% of those polled expecting to increase spending on their m-commerce capabilities over the next year.
Another of the areas that retailers are hoping to cash in on is the resurgence in popularity of unique mobile applications that offer consumers advanced functionality for exploring products and services, all the while being directly linked with the retailer’s online shopping systems. In the past, consumers have typically rejected these offerings as unwieldy, but as we predicted in our recent post about online shopping trends, this is likely to change dramatically in the near future as mobile technology reaches a point where flashiness can mesh seamlessly with functionality. This effect will also be accentuated by many emerging markets where smartphone usage far outweighs that of more traditional computers, such as India, China, and South Africa, bringing the prospect of m-commerce sales to a truly global audience.
The potentials for capitalising on mobile sales are limited only by retailers’ creativity, as consumers are keeping their mobile devices about their person with greater and greater frequency. In any industry that caters to activities outside the home (and so away from a computer), a significant boost in sales and customer interaction can be had by catering to the mobile market. At the very least, a solid m-commerce solution provides the possibility of leveraging the mobile equivalent of impulse buys. No longer will a potential customer need to be in front of a computer to make a purchase – rather, they’ll be able to buy as soon as they realize their need – the perfect sales driver. As the lines between smartphones, tablets and personal computers continue to blur over the coming months and years, expect to see a steady increase in the importance of the mobile commerce market.