Consider that most Millennials got their first mobile phone as young as 11 and before they were 20. In addition, in terms of pure numbers, Gartner's forecast for 2010 and beyond (along with many others) has Smartphones surpassing PC's by 2012. And finally, when you look at Cyber Monday, Shop.org found that 7 million people said they would be shopping via their mobile which is nearly double that of last year. According to reports, that was true for eBay, which said its m-commerce purchases more than tripled year-over-year for the week of 11/22-11/29 and it expects its mobile sales to top $1.5 billion this year.
For Gen Y, mobile shopping is a natural fit with their busy lifestyle. They crave convenience and like being entertained while on the go. The vast majority reports they browse the mobile web when using public transportation. They've also become "recessionistas," who still keep up with the latest trends but who also seek deals to stay within their budgets. Mobile helps them read reviews, and comparison shop to find good deals. Interestingly, mobile bar code scans increased over 30% Thanksgiving weekend from the year before.
While a recent study found that 61% of Fortune 500 companies plan to offer mobile commerce capabilities, the majority of retailers don't have a mobile-optimized site. In fact, only 4.8% of U.S. retailers have mobile-specific sites, which seems to be a missed opportunity. According to a study by Luth Research, 51% of consumers are more likely to purchase from retailers that have mobile specific websites and web retailers could increase consumer engagement by 85% by having a mobile-specific site.
So why haven't more companies created mobile sites? Probably because the cost/benefit didn't seem to make financial sense in years past. Based on what I see, it makes more sense now than ever. Comfort with online shopping and using your mobile phone to make payments and bank are at all-time highs. Consider the recent Chase commercials featuring a newly married Gen Y couple using their mobile phone to deposit gift checks on their wedding night.
It seems that the old adage, "if you build it, they will come," could finally be true. Consumers and Millennials, in particular, seem ready for a good mobile web experience ... but the emphasis is on "good." As a word of caution, its not enough to have a mobile accessible site, it has to be a great experience. In fact, a Gomez survey found 58% of people expect mobile sites to be as good as or better than websites viewed on their computer. And over half of users say they are unlikely to return to a site they had trouble accessing on their phone.
One way to ensure it's a good experience for all consumers is to avoid the iPhone trap. While the majority of respondents in a recent survey list the iPhone as their biggest device priority for mobile support, according to Gartner, the iPhone is only 3% of the mobile market so it's important to ensure your mobile site is optimized for other operating systems as well.