The line between mobile websites and apps is becoming less clear, at least in the world of commerce. It wasn't all that long ago when companies longed for a mobile app so their mobile 'strategy' could be deemed complete. A floodgate of apps opened and they continue to be dangled, pushed and teased for consumers to give them a try. The wave of apps then met the sea of smartphone shoppers who, it seems so far to be leaning heavily on the mobile Web. Or perhaps more precisely stated, they're using their phones to visit retailer websites as they shop.
While mobile commerce is large and global, it still comes down to bite-sized pieces and not every market is yet the same. For example, consumers in China and Brazil spend more time using mobile devices for shopping and banking while more developed markets use them to search for information. This is but one nugget of information in the recent global study People's Web Report by Netbiscuits. The research shows that mobile commerce is growing worldwide, with security more of a concern for developed markets like the U.K., Australia and Germany, with emerging markets more interested in personalized experiences.
A serious dose of augmented reality (AR), disguised as 3D, arrived in the mail of some 40 million consumers this week. Valpak, the direct mail coupon giant, prominently featured an offer to try AR on the front of its familiar blue envelope mailers that hit mailboxes across America (mine came yesterday). Interestingly, rather than using the official term 'augmented reality,' Valpak went with '3D.' The outer envelope offered "3D Savings" by downloading the Valpak app and then tapping a 3D glasses image, which cleverly appears both on the envelope and in the app.
Mobile consumers continue to use their phones for shopping but for paying, not so much. Smartphones are used throughout the path to purchase and beyond, but less so at the actual transaction while in a store. While the latest Nielsen research pointed out again that of those who buy using a smartphone most do it at home, they also noted how much usage occurs before an actual transaction in a store. One of the challenges of mobile payments: in many cases, the solution deals with only one aspect of the purchase process.
Mobile payments have a ways to go, to state the obvious. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that those using mobile payments aren't becoming regulars. The latest research from Onavo Insights, based on an analysis of millions of iPhone users, shows that usage is relative small but somewhat consistent. As no surprise, the leading app for mobile payments is Starbucks, followed by PayPal, Venmo, Square Wallet, PayPal Here and LevelUp.
The latest Groupon sales report is another reminder that deals are becoming more, well, mobile. In addition to hitting quarterly revenue of more than $600 million, the company noted that close to half its transactions in North America are now done on mobile devices. This is up from fewer than a third just a year ago. This is where focusing on showrooming rather misses the point. People are not only going to stores to check out products before buying online. They are continually shopping.
Consumers are very gradually learning to point their phones at things to receive benefit. For years, marketers enamored with QR codes have been plastering them onto newspaper and magazine pages as well as billboards. And years ago, AR (augmented reality) company Layar allowed house shoppers in the Netherlands to point their phones at houses for sale and instantly see related information about those houses displayed on their phone screens.
While the mobile commerce revolution is still in its infancy, it's nearing that magical number around market share. Until now, mobile commerce as a percentage of sales or of retail started in the single digits, finally moving into the teens. Numerous new market tallies report the state of commerce. For the most part, they all show mobile commerce to be in the teens as a percentage of sales or revenue.
It appears that some retailers don't yet accept many aspects of mobile commerce. While research studies generally identify viewpoints to help forecast where something is going, they also illustrate minority viewpoints, since it's beyond rare that everyone agrees on everything. In a study I wrote about yesterday, I pointed out that the majority of retailers are expecting higher sales this holiday season with many looking at mobile as a significant revenue source.
The holiday shopping forecasts are starting to come out and retailers can expect even more of their sales being influenced by mobile this year. A rather obvious cause is that more shoppers have smartphones than they did last year and some merchants are coming to grips with this reality. With the majority of retailers expecting higher sales this year, many are looking at mobile as a significant source of revenue and as a driver of store traffic. A majority (53%) expect mobile transactions will account for a significant portion of holiday revenue and more than a third (38%) see mobile …