Never Mind eCommerce, What About mCommerce?

Lets face it. Independent retailers have been a little behind the curve when it comes to selling online and its hard to compete with the online retail giants.

Consumers have been going online to make purchases at Amazon and Walmart, but there is a new trend emerging. People are switching from using their PCs to shop online to their smartphones and tablets. According to a report by Shopify, in September 2011 almost all online purchases were made on a PC, but in September 2013 this is expected to drop to 60%. Consumers are switching to their smartphones and tablets. The tablet with its larger screen in particular, is a favourite for browsing stores. According to a recent Forrester study, tablets already account for 20 percent of eCommerce sales, despite the fact that only 9 percent of shoppers own tablets!

So how does a retailer keep up? Well mobile devices actually offer a unique opportunity. Unlike PCs, mobile devices are location aware and consumers actually use their mobile devices to search for goods and services locally rather a lot. For example according to The Sanctuary Media Group:

  • 7 out of 10 smartphone owners use location-aware mobile apps
  • Of those who own a smartphone, 9 out of 10 have used a mobile shopping app in the last 30 days
  • 85% have used their smartphone to shop at a local retail store

These figures are really quite impressive and shows that when people want to find something instantly they turn to their mobile device, instead of wandering around looking for a store. This makes having an online presence incredibly important for a small business. Not only that, it is important for your online presence to be mobile friendly. At the moment, almost all small business websites (93%) are not. When this happens consumers will simply hit the back button and look somewhere else.

“All in all selling online is something retailers will have to do sooner or later”

The stats also tell us that consumers will not only look for a local store to physically go to and shop in, but they will also buy online as soon as they find what they are looking for. So having a website where you are able to sell online, should pay dividends and bring in otherwise lost revenue that will just go somewhere else.

This requires more time and investment. But on a website a consumer should be able to find three basic pieces of information: a) a prominently displayed phone number, so they can call and find out what they need to know and possibly make a payment over the phone, b) information in the store’s inventory (ideally this should be photos of items), so that at the very least the consumer knows that they have gone to the right place and c) something about the store owner, perhaps a link to the social network the store is on to start building a relationship with the customer and make them feel safe shopping there.

All in all selling online is something retailers will have to do sooner or later, if they aren’t already. Retailers just need to make sure that when they make the investment to have an online presence they should not forget about mobile. Its no longer a nice to have.


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