Shopping will never be the same. You may remember just a few years ago online shopping changed the way consumers behaved. Many of us no longer bothered to step foot inside an actual store. E-commerce changed the entire shopping process, from searching a product, to the point of sale. But why log on to a computer when you can just reach for your phone? Mobile purchases (on a tablet or smartphone) is the new trend and at an all time high.
According to an eMarketer study mobile purchases this year will reach $37 billion in the United States. That’s a big jump from $23.72 billion in 2012. It makes sense, BI Intelligence reports that currently 54% of adults in the U.S. own smartphones and about a quarter of Americans own tablets.
It’s not only convenient for us to reach for our phones or tablets to shop from anywhere, but retailers have also made it much easier thanks to shopping apps and mobile friendly websites.
Wal-Mart is a great example of this. Just before the holiday season in 2012 the retail giant revamped its smartphone app to enhance the shopping experience. It included local ads, shopping lists, and store maps.
Experts say even if actual purchases are not made through a mobile device, they still play an integral part of the sales process. “If a customer comes to our mobile app, views her local ad and adds something to her app’s shopping list, then buys it in-store that’s a mobile success for us,” Walmart’s Senior VP of Mobile and Digital Strategy Gibu Thomas told Internet Retailer.
Experts predict that by the end of this year mobile purchasing will represent 62% of all digital shoppers. It’s also expected that by next year more than half of those shoppers will do so (at a top 500 e-retailer) via their smartphone.
Your Wallet Now Makes Phone Calls
And it’s not just browsing through digital racks that we now conveniently enjoy on our smartphones. eMarketer predicts mobile payments will top $1 billion dollars in 2013. Mobile payments are transactions for goods or services made by scanning, tapping, swiping or checking in with a mobile phone at the point of sale. Basically using our phones as wallets.
The Starbucks Square wallet is just one of several apps that allows customers to pay at the cashier using their phones. The study says the growth in this kind of technology is actually lower than they expected. According to eMarketer “delays and adoption issues facing numerous mobile wallet initiatives, as well as a congested landscape of competing technologies, materially affect eMarketer’s outlook on mobile payment transaction values.”
Google Wallet hasn’t gained much traction yet. It is only available for some android devices and it only works at locations with PayPass. Technology experts however say it’s the app with the most promise.
Tabbedout, is another free mobile payment app for iPhone and Android. It allows consumers to open, view and pay their bar or restaurant tab from their phone.
“The question is not if mobile payments will become the preferred payment method of consumers across the globe, but when. Consumers and merchants alike immediately see the value that mobile payments provide and Tabbedout is making the transition from credit cards easy and secure,” said Tabbedout Marketing Manager Nick Myers.
Tabbedout also provides merchants a better way to interact with their customers. Through Tabbedout Periscope businesses can send their customers discounts off their tab. Merchants can also respond to customer feedback, and view customer information to make their next visit more enjoyable.
Whether we are using our phones to research, browse or pay for products or services, it’s clear mobile devices have changed the way business is done. I personally like the idea of having a digital wallet, and having to carry less with me… but then what happens when your phone’s battery dies?
At The Store To Shop Online
I do this all the time, but was not aware there is an actual term for it. ‘Showrooming’ is what it’s called when you walk into a store, look at a product, maybe try it on or test it, but then buy it online. Apparently it’s become so popular in Australia (and bad for retailers) one store began charging customers $5 just to go inside and look at products! According to one report by the Australian Retailers Association one in four buyers also bypass sales staff at stores and instead get their answers or reviews about products from their smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Changing With The Times
I’m not a retail or sales expert but I do ‘showroom’ and shop, (in-store, online, on my mobile devices) and from a consumer’s perspective retailers need to get with the times. It is clear that we all like convenience and better deals. We have become smarter about where, how and why we shop for a certain product. We do our homework and in the competitive world of retail only those businesses who are willing to give us more, whether it’s a better deal or better customer service will win the sale. It’s ‘smart’ for retailers to realize that we don’t “go” shopping, we are always shopping on our mobile devices. Make it easy and attractive for us to buy your product and you won’t just get our money, but we’ll be your best marketers through word of mouth, reviews or social media.
Are you a traditional shopper or a part of the mobile purchasing trend? Let us know in the comments box below.