The growth of mobile devices has been one of the most important developments in retail over recent years. Device penetration has soared across the globe, and its impact on the retail sector is being realized. According to a Barclays report, it is expected that retail sales made via mobile devices will reach 32 billion pounds by 2019.
Consumers are demanding means to shop wherever they are, whenever they want. Whilst this presents a vast opportunity for retailers to engage with consumers, it is not without its challenges – one of which is the increase in competition brought about by the channel. Mobile devices have blurred the lines between physical and online retail, presenting e-retailers with the chance to compete for sales within the territory of their physical counterparts.
Retailers are not only looking at the multi-channel aspect, but are looking to leverage the concept of omni-channel presence as well. However, certain barriers that consumers are facing in adopting mobile retail have come to light, as highlighted by the following illustration:
(Source: Barclays’ report on “Future of M-Commerce”)
With reference to the illustration above, the ease of shopping was the next most commonly cited barrier to mobile retail, with 16.5% finding m-commerce ‘too fiddly’, and 15.5% stating that mobile devices don’t allow you to see the products clearly. Older consumers were the most likely to see the impersonal nature of m-commerce as a reason for not engaging with mobile channels, with 19.1% of those aged over 65 stating that they like to have personal contact when they shop – as opposed to an average of 11.6% across all age groups.
11.6% also stated that shopping via a mobile takes too long, and 6.7% worried that shopping uses too much of a consumer’s personal data allowance. Perhaps this shows that as retailers are building their mobile channels and providing greater content, they are in fact dividing their mobile audience between those that are happy to fully engage via a mobile device, and those who see it more as a convenient, quick alternative to more conventional methods.
While we are no longer at the dawn of the mobile age, it will be many years before the channel reaches maturity.