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Mobile Commerce Starts on the Couch


couple-computer-smartphone-in-bed-scaled1000E-commerce is now a double-digit force in U.S. consumer spending, according to comScore. Online retail spending, which has steadily made double-digit gains since 2009, jumped 15% from a year ago to $186 billion last year, while online travel spending increased 9% to $103 billion. That’s some serious dust.

Mobile phones and portable devices such as tablets represented the highest product growth areas during the fourth quarter of 2012, jumping 40% and 46%  year-over-year, respectively. Online sales of desktop computers fell 13% – see my post “iPad Sales Signal the Death of the PC” 1/15/13.

Mobile is clearly changing consumer behavior. What’s less clear is how retailers are adapting to change.

Consider the practice of showrooming – where consumers look at products in-store, then buy online for a cheaper price. Only 17% of consumers are aware of the term.

Or how about where consumers are using mobile to shop? In the store? Nope. From the couch. 40% of smartphone owners are using them for shopping-related activities from the comfort of their own homes, and 21% made a purchase there. By comparison, just 27% used them in stores, while only 7% made a purchase by phone.

Then there is perception. Retailers see their business as multi-channel. Consumers view retailers as omni-channel. It is easy to see where there’d be a disconnect there.

Until retailers get over their frustration with mobile, view mobile the way consumers do and model their business around the consumers’ use of mobile – retailers will continue to flounder with mCommerce. Bigger still is the potential a retailers entire business will suffer.

Perhaps it’s time for retailers to spend a little time on the couch to better understand consumer behavior.


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