When a revolutionary new technology enters the market it isn’t always an overnight success, there are a number of factors that need to be just right. Being the first, or being the best quality doesn’t necessarily mean that a product or technology will be the most popular. We’ve seen this in the past; betamax, minidisc, myspace and the rise and fall of Nokia. Sometimes a company can be far ahead of the pack with their innovation, but if the market isn’t ready for it, then it can fail.
Back when we were playing snake on our 3310s the idea of shopping on our phones probably didn’t cross our minds. It is therefore a testament to the development of technology and innovation that today an estimated $2.3 billion in sales have been conducted via a smartphone.¹ This figure is expected to almost double in 3 years’ time.
So why are shoppers using their mobile devices for grocery shopping?
Having the ability to carry out any transaction when and where you want is ideal for shoppers. One of the most important factors they’re looking for when shopping is for convenience and there doesn’t seem to be anything that can match mobile shopping. This is enhanced with features like the mobile wallet allowing a grocery app to link and receive direct payment with just one click.
According to a recent eMarketer study, there are around 3 billion smartphone users worldwide. It’s estimated that about one third of ecommerce transactions are carried out from smartphones. So when you look at the number of potential customers against a relatively small market share for mcommerce, the potential revenue does seem enticing.
Thanks to the data that can be analysed from shopping via a mobile, consumers can be targeted more easily based on their location, viewed item history and social media. This should help companies tailor their marketing to make it a lot more personalised.
For mcommerce to become a viable alternative to bricks and mortar it does need certain prerequisites. Firstly the platform needs to be big enough. For mcommerce this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as previously mentioned the proliferation of smartphones around the world is fairly high. One thing that might cause a problem with this is the rising cost of smartphones. With the £1000 mark having been reached, will consumers still be as willing to buy smartphones? Sales have slowed down for new flagship phones, but this may be more due to a perceived lack of significant improvements made to later models that warrant such a high price. Although people may be less willing to part with that much money, older and cheaper models are still a viable option. The final issue is that of connectivity and availability; in order for mobile shopping to be a viable option for people, they need to have good connections to the internet anywhere they go. In OpenSignal’s ‘The State of LTE’ report they state:
“Two years ago an average speed of 30 Mbps was unheard of except for in a handful of the advanced mobile countries. Now it’s an achievable milestone for most countries in the developed world.”
In terms of availability, out of 88 countries, only 5 had under 50% 4G accessibility. It’s safe to say that the speed of data connection, which will be increased with the introduction of 5G in the near future, and the availability to find a suitably fast connection can support a widespread switch to mcommerce.
Although the future is bright for mcommerce, it is not the perfect solution. There are problems, but importantly, they are being addressed.
So what are the issues and how they are being resolved?
Smartphones will always have the problem of small screen sizes, made worse by the fact that many websites are still not fully optimised for mobile browsing. When grocery shopping, it can be very difficult to differentiate brands and product sizes on a mobile, detracting from the convenience of having a portable virtual supermarket available whenever you want. Studies show that consumers pay most attention to a thumbnail image when shopping online. To overcome the screen issue the FMCG industry is turning to mobile optimised imagery; ensuring that even on the smallest screen consumers can easily identify the brand, product type and size among other things.
Sometimes a consumer has to go through a number of separate pages, read through text or fill out forms to complete their purchase. This is not so much of an issue on a larger screen where navigation is easier, but can lead to abandoned orders quite easily on a smartphone. The introduction of ‘Buy now’ and ‘One-click’ purchase buttons has helped to resolve this. This enables the shopper to complete the purchase quickly and effortlessly, enhancing the user experience.
This is a big issue for consumers and may be a big reason why mcommerce is not more prominent. After a number of data scares and malpractice from several organisations, companies need to find a way to ensure that their customer’s data is secure. As there are so many variables to shopping on a smartphone, there is no sure-fire solution to every security concern. If a solution is found, then this could be a game changer.
SO, IS THE TIME RIGHT FOR MOBILE SHOPPING?
Yes! When it comes to mobile commerce then it seems as though the tools are there for businesses to fully integrate it into their sales structure. Especially as there is a large number of smartphone users, who are increasingly well connected around the world. Mcommerce also helps to solve some of the issues around convenience and experience that more traditional methods struggle with. It certainly seems like the time is right to invest in mobile commerce.
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