Mobile commerce is very much here and now. A fifth of all online spend now is now on mobile, accounting for around £8bn. That’s a huge figure, and it’s only going to increase. 

So what are the key trends that are driving this growth? We’ve highlighted three here.

Mobile first millennials

People of all demographics are shopping on their mobile device, but there’s a strong correlation with age.

EPiServer research has shown that among the UK smartphone and tablet owning population, those aged 25 to 34 are most likely to have made a purchase on their device in the last six months. Those aged 18 to 24 are not far behind.

It’s the millennial generation, those aged in their 20s and 30s, that has the big mobile spenders. They have grown up with technology and feel utterly at home interacting with the world through their mobile device.

Mobile commerce will continue to grow as the millennial generation matures, but retailers will have a task on their hands to engage with a generation with changing wants, needs and values.  

Research has shown that millennials have very particular expectations and meeting these will be essential. People of this generation have grown up with the internet, are at home with technology may have a short attention span and are often adept at filtering out marketing messages and low quality content.

They want to be able to interact with your business on their terms, are more likely to be receptive to visual stimulation than big blocks of text and can be fickle, switching around social networks, as well as retailers, always attracted to what is new and fun. 

In a retail context this means as little differentiation between your online, mobile and bricks and mortar stores as possible.

It means communicating with your customers through the channels they use with an authentic voice, providing relevant content that will facilitate discovery of your product or service through lifestyle elements and interest areas and using visual mobile social networks such as Instagram and time-limited messaging platform Snapchat to get them engaged through participation and collaboration.  

They’re also very adept at researching online; and equipped with a smartphone they’re just as likely to do that when stood in your high street store as they are sat at home in front of a screen.

Device diversity 

Anyone selling goods via mobile devices knows that, generally, iOS users are the best customers. This is the case in the UK market. Although iOS users make up a smaller portion of the smartphone market (38% to Android’s 44%), they constitute a larger portion of the total mobile commerce spend.

It’s a similar story on tablet, where Apple’s iOS dominates with the iPad, and its users buy more often, on average. In fact 76% of iPad users make a purchase via a website on their device on a monthly or more regular basis, a number which drops to 54% for those on Android tablets.

But that is the current market; the future brings increased diversity. 

Firstly, Android has made huge leaps in the last year in tablet proliferation, driven in part by cheaper devices running Android that appeal to more cost-conscious consumers. It may only be a matter of time before Android’s user base is big enough that its online spend eclipses iOS users.

We should also not discount the other operating systems. Blackberry users are actually better spenders than Android, but it would be hard to argue they are on the rise. Windows Mobile, however, shows promise.

Predictions suggest it will overtake Blackberry this year, reaching 9% market share in the UK. Users of the operating system are pretty good spenders, better than Android users, and with the investment Microsoft is putting into making Windows Mobile a success the platform may be more than an afterthought for online retailers very soon.

That said, ultimately, whatever conjecture there is about the future of the mobile OS market, the only thing you can plan for is uncertainty. Develop a mobile strategy that is as platform agnostic as possible, focussing on a responsive mobile site that works across any mobile device.

Mobile B2B commerce

The big mobile OS players are making moves to get more serious in the business space in the form of partnerships with heavily established enterprise IT organisations.

Apple has formed a sales partnership with IBM, while Google looks like it may be cosying up to HP.

Nowadays the enterprise tends to be slightly slower at adoption of new technology than the consumer space, but both Apple and Google are clearly looking to stimulate the burgeoning mobile enterprise market, and inevitably mobile commerce will form a part of that.

In parallel, B2B ecommerce is growing exponentially too, with 40% of B2B marketers are now engaged in ecommerce.

Only 6% of smartphone and tablet owners had made a work-related purchase via their mobile device in the last six months. As both mobile enterprise and B2B commerce grow, we could expect this number to grow.

What other trends do you think will affect the future of mobile commerce?

Mobile commerce infographic