Seeing vs. Believing Mobile Commerce Is Happening

Mobile commerce is not always easy to see.

I regularly receive notes after writing about this or that mobile shopping survey with readers not necessarily agreeing with the results since they haven’t personally witnessed the same thing while they’re in a store, for example.

This is a very natural and instinctive reaction.

A while back, when I was teaching marketing research at the business school of a university, I described Nielsen households and how the tracking of what people watched was done.

One student said he didn’t believe it, since not only did he never hear of it but also that that no one he knew had ever heard of it either.

We then did an exercise to determine about how many total people he likely knew and then put it in context of the total number of people in the U.S. who watch TV. Though he never saw it, he ultimately did believe it.



The reality is that mobile commerce is happening all around us, though we may either not see it or recognize it.

While in London yesterday morning, I visited several shops to see if there was anything visible relating to mobile shopping going on, but ended up just witnessing shoppers talking on their phones and regularly texting while in stores.

I did the same in Paris in the afternoon, meandering through a couple of very large malls and stores, and witnessed pretty much the same thing.

I didn’t see anyone scanning prices, though employees at Best Buy and Staples regularly tell me that many customers do it all the time and I see the national and global studies confirming this.

While the employees of a Sephora store walked around and took in-aisle payments through their mobile devices, it was a no-big deal event, since those stores have been doing that for some time.

Somewhat ironically, this is one of the mobile shopping activities that shows up in many surveys as relatively low in terms of percentages of people and stores doing it. Yet at stores like Sephora and Nordstrom, where this happens all day, each and every day, it is highly visible.

The numbers around many aspects of mobile shopping are huge, by most any measure.

Just because someone doesn’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

2 comments about "Seeing vs. Believing Mobile Commerce Is Happening".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, March 11, 2014 at 11:03 a.m.

    I see exactly the same thing in London and other English cities - almost nobody using smart phones for shopping, except as a device for talking and texting. Don't see how the contrary experience at a couple of niche chains, even if every single shopper there is scanning prices like mad, is at all relevant in comparison. Sorry, mobile shopping is not huge. What *is* huge, and what I think gets mistaken for true mobile shopping, is doing research on the Internet before buying on a website or going to a physical store.

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, March 11, 2014 at 3:27 p.m.

    What you describe as being huge is part of mobile shopping, as defined in Mobile Influence and as part of the Mobile Shopping Life Cycle, Pete.

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