Faster data transmission, better and more powerful mobile phones, and an increasing availability of mobile access devices with better user interface such as tablets and smartphones have helped build our mobile world today. (“From Electronic to Mobile Commerce: Technology Convergence Enables Innovative Business Services” by Tiwari, Buse, Herstatt, Institute of Technology and Innovation Management, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), accessed at researchgate.net on 10 October 2013) Latest statistics on mobile use are on the uptrend, sending a clear message to businesses: Adapt now or suffer later.
Mobile internet penetration
In the US alone, 56% of the population use a smartphone of which 67% turn to their smartphones in order to access the Internet everyday. Continued production and innovation of smartphones and tablets will increase mobile internet penetration further. Tapping into the smartphone user segment can be beneficial for businesses, promoting greater consumer engagement and boosting sales. (http://think.withgoogle.com/databoard/)
Mobile devices are changing how consumers behave
Mobile consumers use their phones for: mobile search, viewing and uploading videos, apps and checking and interacting in social networks. Many of them perform multiple tasks with their smartphones, usually watching TV and going online on their phones to read and send emails, surf the Internet, and check out their social networks.
Consumers also use their smartphones and computers at the same time even while they watch TV. A TV ad can catch their attention as they use their smartphones, prompting consumers to use their mobile in order to learn more about the advertiser’s offering via a mobile search.
This is usually how mobile consumers start a buying activity for products and services that they need. Mobile consumers end their search by either buying something online or contacting the business using available local information. They may search and buy without interruption on their mobiles or initiate a mobile search and then transfer to their laptops or PCs to view more information before completing the purchase online.
Mobile commerce is evolving from being an extension of e-commerce as 46% of smartphone users have purchased something on their mobiles, many of whom buy on their phones at least once a month. (http://think.withgoogle.com/databoard/) changing consumer behavior will significantly impact on sales and marketing strategies.
What the changing consumer behavior means to businesses
Mobile commerce strategy is indispensable: The smartphone and tablet are ubiquitous tools for consumers and more people are expected to access the Internet using mobile devices. Appearing in mobile devices is important for business survival. To capture the growing market of mobile shoppers, your business must have a mobile strategy for engaging with them.
- Successful advertising incorporates mobile with traditional media: TV ads create awareness and mobile platforms help generate leads or convert TV viewers to online buyers. It’s no longer about making a choice between traditional advertising and online ads. Advertising must integrate mobile and traditional ads for a powerful marketing strategy.
- Sequential screening which is characterised by successively viewing more than one device such as a TV and smartphone implies the need for consistency of marketing materials and continuity of the user experience across media channels. Buyers should be able to save shopping carts and resume buying activity as they switch devices.
- Contextual advertising must also be developed for specific devices to achieve the best outcomes.
- Websites must be viewable across devices: User experience is vital in mobile commerce. Business websites must be designed for the best viewer experience not only on the laptop or PC but also on all types of mobile devices such as the smartphone and tablet.
- Websites must also make it easy for the user to move on from where they left off across media devices. This may mean major revamps for heavily designed websites in order to optimise them for mobile access or the creation of lighter and more touch-screen friendly mobile versions.
Businesses will benefit from local searches: Smartphone users often look for local information and end up either buying or contacting the business located in their areas. Clickable phone numbers and maps appearing in local results will help mobile consumers find a business and facilitate sales whether online or offline.
Smartphones and tablets allow consumers to buy wherever they may be, spurring many impulse purchases on their mobile devices. Whether they are mobile consumers or sequential buyers (people who start the buying process on their mobile phones and end up purchasing them on their PC or laptop), what’s clear is that appearing on mobile search and mobile ads is no longer a choice but a business necessity.
The shifting marketplace from e-commerce to mobile commerce can provide valuable opportunities for local businesses to serve the needs of their target consumers using an integrated mobile marketing strategy across different devices and media channels. Websites must be optimized for mobile devices and content must be tailor-fit taking into consideration how users behave on each device.