Mobile Commerce – Could this be the year of the m-store

Purchasing items and products over the internet is now seen as ‘the norm.’ Even our children now believe that toys seen on the TV simply come from the box that sits on the desk in the study. We spend millions each year from the comfort of our homes, which may be a direct effect of the recession…but why then, has it been overlooked that mobile commerce is the brand new ‘in’ thing to be investing in? With the growing sales of smartphones and tablets, the expansion of the i-cloud, WiFi and internet hotspots throughout the UK, how have we businesses overlooked the importance of connecting with our customers whilst on-the-go? After all, Ofcom’s latest findings show 92% of the UK’s adults own or use a mobile phone, a device that we carry around, use social media on, even make shopping lists and hold photos of our loved ones on ; Have we missed the chance to develop strategies to engage this way with our customers? In short, we think the answer is no, but the time is now fast approaching where we should certainly be focusing on this method.

Debenhams has recently invested a lot of time, energy and money into developing the online mobile strategy, dividing this in two for mobile customers and tablet users.  Smartphone customers have the focus on email, location and in-store offers, where as tablet users have the additional extra of a more rich experience e.g. 360 degree views. Sarah Baillie, the company’s mobile commerce manager has stated that 84% of the department store’s mobile customers regularly shop online or from their handheld devices, spending up to three times more than only half (54%) of customers who shop in-store. She also went on to say that recent findings in their research show that mobile shoppers are more lucrative, visiting online more often and spending more, but they are also more unforgiving in that, if they have a bad experience, they are more likely to drop the brand without a thought or second chance.  

It sounds like a multi-channel approach is the best bet to engage your customers with. This allows customers to dip in and out of the site to research, compare and ultimately come back and purchase with your brand. Econsultancy’s recent survey suggests that consumers purchasing on their mobiles has nearly doubled from 13% in 2011 to nearly 25%. Does this fill us with the confidence to fork out money to invest in something that is still a growing possibility? We would suggest, yes. Whilst the East doesn’t seem to have a problem with buying from their mobiles (13-15% do this regularly), we Westeners’ are of a small minority, but a vast growing one at that. With just 8% of us feeling safe enough purchasing from our handhelds, the rest of us worry and fret over things such as mobile security and a lesser or down-graded online shopping experience.

Whilst it is difficult to gauge the growth in the mobile shopping experience, one thing is certain; in order to gain the most from the consumer, they need to feel confident, safe and have the best customer journey whilst online. Whether this be from a laptop, tablet or from their mobile, we certainly need to look into expanding this field more, generating a more confident, safe and hassle-free mobile shopping environment, before we start to reap the benefits from such a large investment.