2011: The year of “mobile-assisted shopping”

15 December 2011

By Haridas Nair,
mCommerce Solutions and Services,
Sybase 365

Will holiday shoppers bring mobile purchasing into the mainstream this year? They are ready, according to a recent joint survey done recently by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and Sybase 365. (1)

Almost two-thirds of US consumers - 62 per cent - say they would be willing to make a purchase using their mobile devices if encouraged by a coupon, discount offer, text alert, gift card or loyalty program. That number is exciting enough on its own, but when we compare it to last year’s 32 per cent positive response to the same survey question, we have a remarkable 30 per cent increase in just twelve months.

Shoppers are ready, but what about retailers? Do they have the mobile purchasing systems in place to help complete the exchange? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

I recently downloaded a mobile shopping assistant application called ShopSavvy. Once you have it on your device, you use your camera to scan the barcode of a product, and ShopSavvy returns a list of both local retailers and online stores where you can buy the thing, as well as product reviews. I tried it out by scanning the barcode on my paper notebook, and ShopSavvy found it at Amazon, OfficeMax, and a few others. I clicked through to OfficeMax, but was right back to having a clumsy, miniature version of an e-commerce experience on my phone.

To be fair, ShopSavvy does offer a direct purchasing option with some merchants, which allows you to skip the website and make purchases using the ShopSavvy wallet.

On the larger scale right now, mobile is great for comparing prices, and finding places to buy. But when it comes to actually making a purchase, mobile is usually not the easiest option. The desire to shop with our mobiles has increased, but most retailers have not yet matched the fast, intuitive experiences that customers are already used to from iTunes, the Apple App Store, Google’s Android Market, eBay and Amazon.

Another interesting result from our survey shows that even without the discounts, 56 per cent of respondents said they would be likely to use their mobiles to assist with shopping, including finding store locations (38 per cent), comparing prices (34 per cent), researching deals and coupons (28 per cent), finding product reviews (28 per cent) or making a purchase (22 per cent).

Nielsen reported in September 2011 that smartphones now make up 40 per cent of all mobile phones in the US. With more smartphones and tablets in consumers’ hands than ever before, there are more reasons- and more ways - to use mobile than ever before.

All these numbers are telling us that we’ll see a dramatic rise in mobile-assisted shopping this holiday season. In fact, this is borne out by data collected by ShopSavvy on Black Friday, which shows a scan volume 535 per cent than the baseline scan volume of a normal day. Consumers have the devices, they are ready to use them, and there are many ways that mobile can help: comparing prices, providing information and finding the closest retail outlet. However, we still need to make significant progress on the payment side of things- to get to the level of ease that iTunes offers - before mobile shopping goes mainstream.

1. Sybase 365 and Mobile Marketing Association survey

Become a bobsguide member to access the following

1. Unrestricted access to bobsguide
2. Send a proposal request
3. Insights delivered daily to your inbox
4. Career development