Smartphone and tablet launches, such as the hotly-anticipated iPhone 5 , will nearly double the amount of time UK consumers spend online shopping to an average of 2 hours 30 mins per item by 2014 according to eBay.
The ecommerce giant today released a study, conducted by Columino, indicating that launches of such devices will result in UK consumers spending nearly twice as long browsing, researching and comparing prices of items, rather than speeding up the shopping process.
Currently the average UK consumer spends 1 hour 20 minutes researching the purchase of non-basic items, such as consumer electronics or fashion items, online but this will double to 2 hours and 30 minutes within two years.
Additionally, eBay forecasts that this will result in £2.4bn sales in the UK alone during this period as more retailers and brands employ services such as augmented reality and location-based services (LBS) to promote their wares, see graphic below.
Ebay attributes this increase, in both time spent on and sales generated via mobile, to improvements in technologies such as its own Fashion App that includes image swatch technology which allows users to take a picture of a colour or fabric and search for a similar item.
This, along with location-based services that let consumers compare item prices locally on their device, will have the effect of lengthening the the online shopping process according to the study which was carried out among a UK nationally representative sample of 2,774 consumers and included both open and closed questions.
Olivier Ropars, eBay senior director of mobile, said, “Sales of smartphones are booming, even in the recession, and mobile is fundamentally changing the way that people shop. What might be surprising to some people is that rather than speeding up the time it takes to shop, the smartphone boom is resulting in consumers spending more time shopping.”
This comes as eBay upwardly-revised its annual forecast for sales closed on mobile devices for 2012, $8bn to $10bn, similar to last year when it increased its mobile revenue predictions from $4bn to $5bn (nma.co.uk 20 Oct 2011).
The online retail giant has made multiple efforts to bolster its mobile offering in anticipation of this trend over the past 12 months including lobbying UK Government bodies to speed-up the roll out of super-fast mobile internet networks anda separate programme to sponsor public Wi-Fi networks (nma.co.uk 14 Nov 2011).
Speaking with new media age earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, Steve Yankovich, eBay’s head of mobile, described such services as “removing the friction” from a transaction and said that they can help merchants with no online presence to drive footfall into their physical outlets (nma.co.uk 28 Feb 2012).
“We can know when someone is in or near a store and offer them a deal via our relationship with a bricks-and-mortar retailer,” he said. “By doing this, we go from a multimillion dollar business to a multi-trillion dollar one.”
Ebay’s forecasts comes the same week as Apple is expected to unveil the next version of its iPhone on Wednesday after issuing a – typically vague – invitation for an event in California, see right. Speculation persists that the device will support super-fast mobile internet networks – or LTE – as well as NFC to support Apple’s planned mobile wallet service Passbook, see below.
Meanwhile, Nokia and Microsoft have stepped-up the competition in the smartphone ecosystem war by unveiling the first commercial launch of a Windows Phone 8 (WP8) device the Nokia Lumia 920 which supports NFC last week with the Finnish manufacturer also striking an exclusive agreement with Groupon to embed an AR-based app on the device as part of its launch (nma.co.uk 6 Sep 2012).