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December 27, 2011


Mobile Devices Rule Holiday Shopping

By Larry Walsh

Retailers are still tallying up the take from this year’s holiday shopping season. While the malls were jammed between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, so too were the Web-ways as more people took to the Internet to gather their holiday gifts. The big jump: shopping using mobile apps.

Nearly 4 percent of every retail dollar was spent online in December. While that’s not utterly impressive, the growth of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets as shopping tools is. Mobile device used for ecommerce doubled to 18 percent. And, no surprise, 92 percent of all mobile devices used in ecommerce were either Apple iPhones or iPads.

When you peel back these numbers, the slices get pretty thin. Remember, the numbers are all derivatives of that 4 percent of all retail spending. Nevertheless, the trend is apparent: mobile devices are fast becoming the route of choice to gift buying and personal shopping.

What the numbers don’t reflect is how consumers are using mobile devices for an integrated shopping experience. They may not purchase with their mobile devices, they are using them for research and product comparisons.

Nearly every device – Apple, Android and Windows – either comes with or has available bar code and QR (quick response) code readers. With these apps, they’re able to scan produces on the store shelves, compare features and prices, and see the reviews and recommendations of other shoppers. They no longer have to make the back-and-forth journey between their home PC and the mall to make comparisons – it’s all in the palm of their hands.

The trend points to a general shift in control of the purchasing process from retailer to consumer. Before the Internet, seller retained much of the control in the buying process because they controlled most of the information – features, availability and pricing. Today, all that information is available online. It was challenging enough for retailers who had to compete with Web-based information on home computers. Today, all that comparative information is available immediately anywhere – even in their own stores –through portable devices.

The potential antidote is better integrated shopping experiences. Technology vendors, including IBM, have been building commerce platforms that give consumers the same experience in store, online and with mobile devices. This means shoppers can put their selections in virtual shopping carts, reserve items in stores and return goods through the medium of their choice with ease.

The benefits of an integrated shopping experience are better customer relationships and loyalty, as well as higher sales conversion rates. Smart retailers are also using the technology to their advantage, mining queries for trends on consumer preferences and predilections.

It’s a mistake to think of ecommerce and mobile devices used for shopping as disruptions. This mobility trend in commerce is an opportunity to get closer to the consumer and engage deeper in the shopping experience.

1 Comment
  1. Jun 12 2012

    Richard, I misunderstood your issue, I think I was tklniag about navigation in the front page. I’m not sure why you go to the next / previous post in category when you click on the arrows at the bottom of the post, my navigation takes me to the next / previous post (time based, not category based). I tried it by entering an article from the front page and also via category and it worked the same both times. Can you describe how you navigate step by step and what you see?

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