One in ten UK shoppers will be shopping for Christmas presents via mobile rather than using their computers this year, according to new stats from Tesco Direct.
This, and other surveys from the US, provides further evidence of the growth of mobile commerce, and the key role that mobile shopping will play this year.
So how can retailers make the most of this trend?
Tesco’s survey of 4,000 consumers found a number of different uses of mobiles for shopping, and not all were while out and about.
Half of mobile shoppers uses their phones while watching TV, one in six while sat on the bus, and a quarter during their daily commute. More than a third of all respondents said that shopping via mobile reduced stress levels and allowed them to fit it around busy schedules.
Tesco said that 500,000 mobile users had visited the Direct site in October, and more are expected in the run up to Christmas. The retailer recently released a mobile version of its website.
Recent US stats point to similar trends in mobile shopping, with the MMA finding that 59% of US consumers intend to use their phones for Christmas shopping, and 13% using it to purchase gifts.
This trend towards the use of mobiles for research, browsing and purchase is set to continue, so retailers need to do more to make the most of this trend. Here are a few suggestions:
Launch a mobile site or app
This is the most obvious way to appeal to the mobile shopper, and many UK retailers have now released mobile versions of their sites; M&S, Tesco, Argos, John Lewis, and Debenhams have all launched sites or apps in the last six months.
The stats show that mobile sites can work too. Both eBay and Amazon, who have been at the forefront of mobile shopping, have released impressive mobile sales figures. It has worked for high street retailers too: From May to October, the M&S mobile website attracted 1.2m visitors and 13,000 orders.
There are now plenty of convincing reasons why retailers need a mobile website or app.
Get listed on mobile comparison apps
If you have no mobile site, then making sure it is as easy to use as possible on a phone (i.e not too much Flash, clear page layouts etc) is one way.
Another way is to ensure your products show up on mobile comparison and voucher sites, such as Sccope or Vouchercloud. As mobile users increasingly compare prices on their phones when shopping offline, then this is one way to get your products in front of them.
Reserve and collect
If retailers have a mobile site or app, then reserve and collect is one way to help drive customers into stores. We know that this works online, but If this is combined with mobile it becomes a very effective tool.
The Argos iPhone app is a great example of this. It isn’t possible to buy direct from the app, but users can check stock levels at any Argos branch and reserve items for immediate collection.
A useful extra for retailers on mobile apps is a barcode scanner, which allows customers to scan products when out shopping and compare prices or find reviews.
Amazon’s app takes a slightly different approach, using photo recognition instead of a scanner, but it’s a great tool for offline shopping as it allows shoppers to easily check prices on the site, as well as reading user reviews of a product.
Kiddicare, eBay and Debenhams are among the retailers who have released barcode scanners, and the beauty is that, once customers have them, it means that even if they are shopping at a competitor’s store, retailers still have a chance of grabbing the sale.