Mobile commerce climbed 31% in the first quarter from a year ago, fueled by growing tablet use and improved customer service, M-commerce now accounts for 17.4% of total online retail sales, up from 13.3% in the year-earlier period. Overall e-commerce spending was up 20% in the quarter.
The IBM’s Online Retail Index study highlighted the growing role that tablets are playing in driving m-commerce as more people use the iPad and other models to shop from the comfort of their living rooms. While mobile traffic overall increased 40% during the quarter, for instance, tablet traffic jumped nearly 80% from a year ago.
“This trend reflects marketers’ ability to create a positive customer experience for consumers shopping on their iPads and Kindles, by designing for the finger and making it easier for customers to browse via their mobile devices,” stated the report. The finding also aligns with other research pointing to tablets as the go-to device for m-commerce.
An eMarketer forecast earlier this year estimated that tablet transactions accounted for more than half (57%) of the nearly $25 billion in U.S. m-commerce last year, with that proportion expected to grow to 62.5% this year. And keep in mind that tablets to date have less than half the U.S. penetration of smartphones, at roughly 20% to over 50%.
While tablet adoption has helped boost m-commerce, the study shows the share of online sales coming from mobile is not growing as fast as in 2012. Last year, m-commerce nearly doubled from 7% to 13.3% of total e-commerce, while the share this year grew only by 30%.
The IBM study spotlighted the online performance of department stores in the first quarter, which saw a 32% rise in mobile sales. It attributed the gain in part to stores embracing digital shopping by streamlining the buying experience and using mobile tools, such as QR codes to provide product information and shopping services.
In relation to social media, IBM found positive sentiment about pricing expressed through social media reached 60.5%, seven times that of negative sentiment. “As marketers and retailers offer more digital shopping solutions, customers were most positive about price comparison applications, when discussing pricing,” stated the report. Sentiment around product availability hit 70%, up six percentage points from a year ago.
"Mobile Shopping photo from Shutterstock"