Everybody knows that shopping online is an industry with explosive growth potential. You only need to look at the dozens of once-bustling shopping malls around the United States to see the effect of online shopping – when’s the last time you saw a WaldenBooks, or a Tower Records? – but it goes deeper than that.
Sure, the internet effectively sounded the death knell for many types of retail establishments. You rent movies online to watch on your television that you ordered off of Amazon while resting on your couch that you got delivered from Overstock in an apartment that you found on Trulia. It’s just the way things are now. But there’s another e-commerce revolution, born on the wings of the last one, that’s bigger – and closer to upsetting the apple cart – than you think.
Mobile Shopping – the Stealthy Juggernaut
It’s no secret that using mobile devices to shop can sometimes be an issue. In the past, small mobile screen sizes, spotty connection issues, and retailers with poor mobile optimization have kept the idea of mobile shopping in check – in fact, in 2015 alone, consumers made online purchases from their mobile devices only 15% of the time – even though they spent 59% of their time on these mobile devices.
The landscape has since changed, though. Thanks to manufacturers creating phones with larger screens, service providers upgrading their coverage, and savvy retailers providing better access to mobile-friendly versions of their sites with one-touch ordering, mobile shopping has become easier than ever. In just a couple of years, mobile sales have grown to a 19% slice of the pie – with estimations that this percentage will grow to 27% by 2018 as more consumers adopt mobile shopping.
A Built-In Customer Base, 1.2 Billion Strong
So why has mobile shopping gone through such an increase in popularity, and why do all experts predict it will continue to do so? It’s a numbers game. There are more than 1.2 billion people that use mobile devices to access the internet every day, according to market research. This sort of built-in customer base means that if even just a fraction of these individuals make purchases on their devices, it’s still going to amount to a whole lot of revenue – and this figure is only going to rise in the future.
But how much, exactly, is “a whole lot?” Try $100 billion a year in sales in the US alone, according to one source. That works out to be roughly one-third of the $300 billion in revenue that e-commerce brings in annually. And while desktop and laptop devices certainly result in more conversions right now when compared to mobile devices – around 2% compared to 0.5% to 1.5% – conversion values on both iOS and Android devices are higher than on Windows-based machines, cutting into non-mobile e-commerce’s lead by a sizeable margin and giving them a serious run for their money.
Retailers are Preparing for a Mobile-Centric Future
Smart retailers saw the writing on the wall when it came to e-commerce’s disruptive power. In a world where you adapt to new market conditions or you die a slow, lingering death, the rise of e-commerce portals for new and existing companies alike helped spearhead an online shopping industry where 96% of Americans have made at least one purchase online – and 80% have done so in the last 30 days. Extrapolating those figures out worldwide means that there are lots of people, all over the world, just itching to make mobile purchases.
Now, the same retailers that came out of the e-commerce revolution are watching e-commerce evolve and spread out into mobile marketplaces, girding their loins for yet another paradigm shift when it comes to how people spend their money – this time, instead of from the comfort of their home, basked in the glow of their computer monitors, to anywhere and everywhere they have a mobile signal. People spend much of their days with their mobile device in-hand – 80% of internet users own a mobile device, and more than half of them reach for that device before even getting out of bed every morning. As a result, more than 7 out of every 10 marketers now believe that mobile marketing is at the core of their business.
How to Prepare Your Own Business for Mobile Shopping
Worried that you’re going to be left behind in the race for mobile shopping to reach its high-water mark? You’re not alone – plenty of people have begun to scramble to get their own businesses positioned properly to flourish in the coming mobile commerce environment, and it’s surprisingly simple to ensure your own business is prepared for the mounting popularity of mobile shopping.
The best way to start is to ensure that your online presence is mobile-friendly. If there’s anything that users of mobile devices loathe, it’s wasting time on a poorly-optimized mobile site – or one that isn’t optimized at all. 61% of mobile users say they won’t return to a mobile site they’ve had trouble accessing according to Google – and 40% of them will go to a competitor’s site instead, so if you want to avoid such an ignoble fate, get your site optimized for mobile before it’s too late.
The Ever-Changing E-Commerce Landscape
It’s unlikely that mobile devices ever obviate the need for desktop and laptop computers completely. Ask anyone who’s had to spend 20 minutes writing a short e-mail by tapping impotently at a touch keyboard if they would rather give up their notebook for good. Yet mobile technology is only going to get faster, cheaper, and more advanced as we continue to progress, and the e-commerce landscape is going to continue to shift accordingly.
What mobile devices do accomplish is make it easy to find the things we need quickly and easily. That goes for mobile shopping as much as it goes for getting directions to a friend’s house, finding what film’s playing at the local movie theater, or where you can get the best fish tacos at 2 in the morning. There might be a few casualties on the road to increased mobile interconnectivity, so make sure you’re prepared for the ever-changing future as much as you can be.
Ben Shepardson is the founder of NoStop Content, a boutique writing agency focusing on helping small business clients take their websites to the next level. From social media topics to articles on niche industry issues, NoStop’s articles are written with style, attention to detail, and with the client’s audience in mind.