Fifth of smartphone owners make mobile purchases, as online retail booms

19% of world's smartphone owners shopping online

Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are driving a boom in online retail, as shoppers who are “always on” can browse and make purchases whenever and wherever they are, according to a new report from payment provider WorldPay. The survey of 19,000 consumers found that 19% of smartphone owners globally are already shopping online with their devices, with 11% of tablet owners and 55% of laptop owners making purchases via the internet on their devices. WorldPay believes that there is a huge opportunity for retailers, with 40% intending to use a smartphone or tablet to buy online within the next 12 months. However, speaking to StrategyEye at Internet World in London, WorldPay’s e-commerce CEO, Floris de Kort, says that retailers cannot expect to automatically reap the benefits of this burgeoning market. Instead, he says, as sales shift from the internet to mobile, retailers must ensure they have the right approach in order to attract the mobile customer base. 

What people buy on the internet and what they buy via mobile is distinctly different,” he says. “If people want to buy clothing they still do that on the PC. But digital delivery and digital content, that they buy on an iPhone or iPad. That is a different customer base, a more global population, and it’s a different approach that you need to have as a merchant. Start with the obvious, making sure that your website works on these devices. But then think about who the consumers are and how to target them best.

De Kort suggests that retailers also need to consider their strategy on mobile and whether to opt for a mobile-optimised site or a shopping app. He adds that larger retailers, which traditionally sell products on sites, are increasingly plumping for apps. “Actual direct sales on the mobile devices, the electronic products and digital delivery, it’s more going in the direction of apps,” he says.

Yet despite the growing use of mobile devices for online shopping, WorldPay found that around 95% of e-commerce purchases are still made in the home, with tablets and smartphones accounting for just 2.5% of total sales globally. De Kort believes this means that, while mobile will become increasingly important, retailers should continue focusing on boosting the appeal of their websites to consumers in order to maximise revenues online. However, he says that the “massive disconnect” between what consumers want, and what retailers think they want, is hampering purchases and therefore revenues.

In its research, WorldPay also found that the number one frustration among global online shoppers is unexpected costs, such as VAT or delivery fees, added at the last stage of purchasing, with security of financial and personal data and the ability to track a delivery also ranking highly. But retailers believe that the most important factors in convincing consumers to purchase are web design, navigation and speed of purchase.

There is a massive disconnect here,” he says. “What merchants think is important consumers didn’t even mention. It seems they are more likely to buy from a s*** website as long as they feel safe. Giving people confidence to purchase should be the number one priority for retailers.

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