The mobile phone is more than just a device for speaking to people while on the go. Consumers are using it more often to compare and shop for deals and products.
According to ABI Research, consumers worldwide will spend nearly $120 million on goods and services purchased from their mobile phones (accounting for about 8% of the e-commerce market) by 2015. In the United States, mobile shopping rose from $396 million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2009, according to ABI senior analyst Mark Beccue. (He adds that Japan's mobile shopping passed $10 billion last year, and the practice is quickly catching on in Europe as well.)
"One of the main things accounting for the U.S. growth is [that] over a year ago eBay and Amazon started their mobile shopping sites, and the rest of the retail industry followed suit," Beccue tells Marketing Daily. "At the same time, you had fairly explosive growth among consumers for mobile Internet."
The growth in smartphones and mobile Internet accessibility has also led to a switch in habits among mobile shoppers. In the fourth quarter of 2009, Beccue says, consumers began using their smartphones to help them comparison shop online while inside brick-and-mortar retailers.
Indeed. According to consumer electronics site Retrevo.com's Pulse survey, a majority of adults 18-35 used a mobile phone in their shopping process. A little more than a third of adults 35-44 had used their phones for shopping. Among young adults, 17% between 18 and 24 purchased a product from their phone, compared to 15% of those 25-34. Ten percent of adults 35-44 used their phones to make a purchase. (Among those who did use the phone for shopping, 59% said using a phone helped them find the product they were looking for at the best price. Only 8% said they had a bad experience and wouldn't do it again.)
"We went from what I thought would be impulse buying to comparison shopping," Beccue says. "The gloves are coming off for physical merchants. If you're a physical or electronic merchant, [a mobile e-commerce site] is going to be a must-have."