Online Marketers Beware: M-Commerce is Changing Your Game

In this changing age of technology, companies need to continuously adapt their online strategies and tailor their shopping channels for the evolving digital consumer. With the iPhone offered by most major mobile carriers and theproliferation ofother smart phones in the market,

Mobile Browsing

it is not surprising that a number of consumers already rely on their phones instead of their computers as their primary means of accessing the Internet. According to a recent consumer survey by Rockbridge, half (47%) of online consumers own a smart phone with web access and a fourth (23%) prefer to use their phone instead of a computer to go online “always” or “most of the time”. Only 2% of smart phone consumers never use their phone to go online. (See Figure 1)

Consumers are doing more than just browsing or watching videos while on the mobile internet; they are using their device as a shopping aide. The vast majority of smart phone consumers have used their phone to search for better deals while in a store (82%) or to visit a store’s website while in their store (72%). Over half (58%) have received a coupon on their phone after sending a text message and half (50%) used a coupon that was stored on their phone. Two-thirds (64%) have paid for a product or service on their phone. (See Figure 2)

About the study

In the future, smart phone consumers plan to increase some mobile internet activities when shopping. They will be more likely to store items such as coupons on their phones so that they can be used at stores or other businesses (50% do this currently, with 77% planning to in the future). Four-in-ten (38%) have used a mobile ticket (e.g., a movie or sporting event) stored on their phone and another 21% plan to in the future. Consumers will also be more likely to scan a barcode with their phone (56% vs. 70% in the future).

Growth Potential of Mobile Activities

Some mobile internet shopping activities have reached their saturation point and appear to be ebbing, possibly because the previous experience was not satisfying or because consumers do not see a need for it. Notably, consumers will be less likely to use their phones while in the store to search for better online deals or to visit the store’s website. Interestingly, the likelihood of consumers paying for a product or service on their phone will also decrease, from 64% currently to only 56% in the future. This will present some challenges to companies to make these activities more relevant and easier to accomplish on a mobile device.

The most common item currently purchased on smart phones consists of apps from the provider’s app store, but more than a quarter have recently purchased something tangible, such as a new pair of shoes, which might have traditionally been bought online or in the store. (See Figure 3). Many of those who purchased something other than an app or phone content using their phone chose this method because it was more convenient (46%) or because they were not around a computer (27%). Since phones are used mainly when it is a matter of convenience, marketers should expect purchases to be made by the same customers in both mobile and stationary channels.

Mobile Purchases

Many consumers have avoided purchasing on their mobile phones. One of the reasons is a diminished ability to see products in greater detail (28%); therefore, zoom features on mobile sites may be useful in motivating consumers to purchase. Some also have concerns about the privacy of their personal information (22%), so companies may need to consider modifying and updating methods used during Web 1.0 to reassure consumers that their information is protected.

M-commerce provides consumers more flexibility when accessing the internet and they are taking advantage of it now and plan to do so in the future. Mobile consumers are delving into new activities while avoiding others, and marketers will need to continue to innovate and provide user-friendly shopping experiences to attract these savvy consumers.


Written by: Sara Farbry, Senior Director, Client Services