What’s coming down the pike for eCommerce & Mobile Technology? Here’s a round-up of the experts latest predictions for how, when, and where growth in mobile eCommerce will occur.
The Current State of Things
The lingering results of the economic downturn have not impeded growth in retail spending. In 2012, retail sales great 3.7% and high-end sales online has surged. Another area of growth is eBooks – digital counterparts to print books (or—in some cases—the only edition available for a title). This is a relatively new market that has people turning to their digital devices to make purchases, because that’s the only way to buy these products. PricewaterhouseCoopers expects revenues from eBook sales to reach $5.57 billion in 2015.
With the availability of a wide range of mobile technology devices—whether tablets, phones, or netbook—the ability to be connected anytime, anywhere has never been greater, and this increased access creates an obvious opportunity for increased eCommerce. Consumers prefer mobile devices, and one type of mobile device—tablets—are where increased online sales are coming from. Why tablets? Research and shopping are easier with the larger screen size. Very few eCommerce transactions, relatively speaking, are made via smartphones.
With the increased use of mobile devices come other changes. Better connectivity—whether from more WiFi hotspots or better (4G) networks, also increases the ability to be able to engage in eCommerce anytime. All of these increases in the quality and ease of connectivity have changed the purchasing process. People don’t think of purchasing something in the evening and then have to wait till the next morning to bring their plans to fruition, giving them time to think about—and perhaps rethink or abandon—their plans. Instead, many purchases are made the instant they are conceived, which likely adds up to more sales (and more regret—but that’s a different issue).
Daily deal sites have grown up in the interstices between mobile technology and eCommerce. The possibility of huge savings keeps people online and in shopping mode both more often and for far more time than they used to be when shopping meant driving to one or more stores or reading through an (already outdated) catalog.
What the Future Holds for the Industry
It seems certain that more use of mobile technology is coming up: the increase shows no signs of stopping. M-commerce (mobile commerce) – as it is now titled) is—according to Forrester Research—expected to reach $31 billion by 2016. New platforms are expected, and technology may change to make eCommerce easier – for example larger tablets (at the end of May, 2013, rumors started touting a 12.9-inch iPad maxi, supposedly due out in 2014), and larger phones – which could change the game for M-commerce on smartphones.
What the Future Holds for You
What the future holds for an individual merchant depends on whether the merchant catches the wave. How can that be done?
• Instead of thinking about seasonal or monthly updates (the timeframe from the catalog era) think in shorter time periods: whether you offer your own specials or make them available through a daily deal site like Groupon, short-lived offerings that change frequently and are good enough to make your customers (and potential customers) check and recheck and recheck will keep traffic flowing to your site.
• Instead of marketing to the masses, market to the fellow or gal who’s apt to purchase. How do you know? Try using QR codes or location services to determine (with their permission, of course!) where people are and what they’re doing, hence, what their needs are.
• Partner with businesses in related services whose customers need your products or services and vice versa and put links to each other’s services on appropriate product pages. Although this doesn’t keep customers on your website, it keeps them online, and if you have built a good reputation and customer loyalty, they’ll appreciate the easy access to relevant products or services and that will build your standing with them.
• Make sure the mobile version of your website is adequate for your needs. Check it out on a variety of the most popular tablets to make sure it works well on all of them. As new platforms are developed, your web development should keep pace. Responsive design strategy is the name of the solution that allows etailers to create eCommerce sites that work well with the wide variety of mobile devices.
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