Commentary

Mobile Apps Dominate Consumer Time Online

According to new data provided exclusively to Internet Retailer from comScore, there has been a tectonic shift in the way consumers spend their time online. In October 2014, 52% of the time consumers spent online occurred within smartphone and tablet apps, 40% in web browsers on desktops and laptops, and 8% spent in web browsers on smartphones and tablets.

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Consumers are spending quite a bit of time in the mobile apps of such players as Facebook, Google, Twitter, eBay and Amazon, but the shift from mobile sites to mobile apps shows that consumers prefer the richer experiences that can be provided in apps, and that is having a trickle-down effect, mobile technology experts say.

R.J. Pittman, chief product officer at eBay, says “… a shift to mobile apps… is hitting epic heights… “

 282 million consumers worldwide have downloaded eBay’s smartphone, tablet and wearables apps, says the report. In 2013, 39% of eBay sales came from mobile devices, but M-commerce sales at eBay will grow 70% in 2014, according to the 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500.

Says Pittman, “… the technology that powers these apps today has become far more powerful than a few years ago… you can build much better shopping experiences in apps than on any other platform… retailers are starting to build much more sophisticated and interesting mobile apps…”

Several factors are driving increased app usage, including a continually increasing number of consumers adopting mobile devices (especially smartphones), says the report. Wider adoption of new smartphones with larger screens (which make reading and shopping easier), and the introduction of new technologies in apps that make apps more engaging (such as one-touch checkout via Apple Pay), drive the use. However, says Andrew Lipsman, vice president of marketing and insights at comScore, the main driver behind the shift to apps is wider adoption by consumers of 4G wireless data connectivity, the fastest networks available to smartphone owners today.

“Prior to 4G, browsing the web or using apps on your smartphone was slow and clunky, and consumers generally used apps only when necessary; the average consumer was not sitting on their couch or on the go heavily using mobile apps,” Lipsman says. “In the last two years, though, smartphones have become the primary platform consumers use to consume content and shop, and 4G connectivity is a big part of this movement to mobile devices and apps.”

In 2012, 14% of smartphones worldwide connected to the web via 4G, this year it’s 38%. In 2015, GSMA predicts 47% 4G, and 54% in 2016.

Smartphone Web Connection

Year

2G

3G

4G

2012

26%

60%

14%

2014

15

47

38

2015

12

41

47

2016

 

 

54

Source: GSMA, December 2014

4G LTE offers exponentially faster wireless network speeds than have ever been available, faster than what some consumers have in a home Wi-Fi network… mobile now is a formidable alternative platform that can replace the traditional desktop, says the report.

Arash Hadipanah, one of the Internet Retailer Top 10 Mobile Commerce Chiefs, says “… having a mobile app is no longer about just having one to have one, it’s about prioritizing it as a platform where your customers are going to shop… retailers must make sure their mobile app customer experience and feature set are as rich as their desktop experience and feature set…” 

Retailers that have not yet committed to seriously investing in mobile commerce had better jump on the bandwagon “before they’re left in the dust,” says Annie Trombatore, one of the Internet Retailer Top 10 Mobile Commerce Chiefs and head of product at Thrillist Media Group, which owns JackThreads, No. 175 in the 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500.

The fact that consumers now can consistently get high-quality app experiences from more of the brands they care about, combined with the increasing affordability and accessibility of smartphones, is driving mobile app success, she adds. She says 58% of purchases at JackThreads on Thanksgiving occurred on mobile devices, and apps accounted for most of those sales.

For more information from the Internet Retailer report, please visit here.

 

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