Mobile devices are proving to be the biggest disruptors of the retail economy. Retail sector analyst comScore Inc. released research that details how smartphones and tablet computers continue to reshape how consumers shop and pay.
In State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy in Q3 2013, comScore said the online payment ecosystem has become a multiplatform one, with consumers interacting via a combination of desktop computers and mobile devices. As of Sept. 2013, 54 percent of Internet users employed multiple devices, up from 48 percent in February 2013.
Meanwhile desktop shopping is falling, from 46 percent in February 2013 to 39 percent in September. Additionally, shoppers are spending more time shopping online via smartphones than desktops. In August, users clocked more minutes on cell phones than desktops (apparently for the first time) and increased that gap the following month.
The data also confirms the majority of mobile wallet apps are not catching on with the public. Most brands are seeing site traffic primarily via web browsers rather than proprietary apps. The exceptions are Amazon.com, eBay Inc. and Apple Inc., where 77, 65 and 99 percent of consumers, respectively, use their private label apps over browsers.
The climb of mobile commerce (smartphones and tablets) over the last three years has been remarkably steady. In the fourth quarter of 2010, $1.6 billion was spent via mobile devices. In the corresponding quarters of 2011 and 2012, that number rose to $4.9 billion and $7.2 billion, respectively. If this growth trend holds true, then the fourth quarter 2013 mobile spend will break $10 billion.
While comScore said retail spending growth via mobile commerce is doubling the spending growth via desktop overall, desktop still accounts for the bulk of online commerce. Additionally, consumers utilize mobile commerce to make specific types of purchases.
For example, consumers prefer to shop with smartphones and tablets for video games and accessories at a 26 percent clip, followed by toys and hobbies (24 percent), and content and subscriptions (19 percent). On the other end of the spectrum, 10 percent of consumers buy apparel and accessories with smartphones and tablets, and only 7 percent use mobile devices to shop for computer hardware.
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