Looking ahead: Top Trends in Mobile E-Commerce

Mobile shopping became more accessible than ever in 2011. Apps for almost every major shopping service or website are now readily available on iPhone, Android and iPad. Looking ahead to 2012, we note some of the trends that transpired in mobile e-commerce over the past year:

Quick Payment

Websites such as LevelUp from Boston company SCVNGR have cropped up at more and more businesses as a payment option for smartphone owners. The loyalty program rewards customers for coming back while also attracting new patrons to businesses by featuring different merchants daily. Other services such as Google Wallet on the Android platform use NFC technology to make mobile payments fast and convenient. Companies such as Groupon have introduced mobile apps to allow users to purchase and use deals on the go across most major mobile platforms. The biggest mobile payment app so far, Square, reported recently over one million merchants now use their platform to accept credit cards. The company processes an average $11 million in payments a day, up from $4 million last July. Paypal has started expanding to the mobile payment world by testing in-store technology via mobile and point of sale systems at retailers such as Home Depot. Users input a pin code via their mobile phone and the amount will be deducted from their PayPal account. So far the service is only available to PayPal employees, but the company looks to branch out and introduce the system to retailers around the world.


Late-Night Shopping on the Rise

Companies such as Gilt Groupe have started offering more evening deals at 9 p.m. to accommodate the increase in late-night shopping habits. The ease and convenience of shopping on mobile devices led the way for companies such as Rue La La, Ideeli, Gilt and Haute Look to develop mobile apps with daily deals for luxury apparel and goods. Another trend that has increased with evening shopping habits is purchasing items after drinking. The New York Times recently published an article on the phenomenon, citing the trend as particularly benefiting high-end specialty retailers. ChannelAdvisor, a company that runs e-commerce for hundreds of sites, estimates order volumes peak around 8 p.m. with the number placed between 9 p.m. to midnight increasing from previous years. Online retailers are developing strategies to prosper from the habit in various ways, offering everything from expensive trip deals to chocolate and wine-tastings.


QR and Barcode Scanning

Barcode scanning on tablet and smartphone devices has been steadily increasing. In a recent survey of 801 18-64 year olds done by Group SJR and Liz Claiborne Inc, between 55-57% of smartphone and tablet owners planned to use QR and barcode scanning to look up a product while 53-54% planned to use a coupon. Companies such as San Jose-based RedLaser, utilize their apps for more than just scanning QR and barcodes. Customers can look up nutritional information on food labels and find out if a book is available at the closest library simply by scanning those items. RedLaser recently were acquired by eBay Inc., giving the application integration with the over 200 million listings on eBay’s website. The ability to compare and shop on the go provides a more convenient option for shoppers, but is just the beginning for barcode mobile technology.


iPad Shopping Rising

iPad shoppers are savvy and ready to spend. Generally, the device also earns higher conversion rates and greater revenues compared to iPhone and Android users. According to IBM Coremetrics, iPad users are twice as likely to buy the item they’re looking for than those who shop on other platforms. Web traffic on Cyber Monday for 70+ retailers hit around 5 million page views on iPad, compared to 2 million views for iPhone traffic according to a study by Compuware. Retailers are still racing to keep up, most of the top 20 ranked internet retailer sites do not have iPad optimized websites but almost half did have iPhone applications for download. As customers view websites more and more on their tablet devices, retailers will need to be prepared to accommodate for the increase in traffic.

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