We often think of mobile’s role in commerce as simply allowing the consumer to do research in the store and make their purchases elsewhere, the dreaded "showrooming". Increasingly, though, shoppers are using their smartphones to actually purchase items, replacing their credit cards and wallets entirely. Below, we examine the benefits of mobile commerce for consumers—and why businesses would be wise to pay attention.
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The Benefits of In-Store Mobile Commerce
While many people think of “mobile commerce” as a means for consumers to shop in-store and then make purchases elsewhere, businesses are slowly learning that the meaning of this common term is changing. As the prevalence of smartphones continues to increase, so does the incidence of shoppers using their mobile devices to bypass their wallets and credit cards and purchase products entirely through mobile connections. With this evolving sales landscape, businesses would be wise to concentrate on the role of in-store mobile commerce and to decide how to best tap into this new frontier.
Why Consumers Love Mobile
Businesses should begin by examining the many reasons that shoppers are choosing mobile over traditional methods of making purchases. These are just a few of the reasons that consumers love to use the mobile option:
- Choice – Many customers appreciate the payment options available when they use their mobile devices. Merchants who are set up to allow payments through debit cards, credit cards and e-wallets are the favorites among mobile consumers. Having many options allows these shoppers to choose their best methods of payment and allows them to make purchases that may not have been possible if cash or debit were the only choices.
- Convenience – Using a mobile device is decidedly more convenient than traditional methods of payment. Shoppers do not even have to carry a wallet or a credit card when they have e-wallet capabilities. Even better, many mobile-friendly businesses now have their salespeople ring up purchases for shoppers in the aisles of the stores rather than forcing everyone to wait in long lines at cash registers.
- In-store Rewards – As NFC and QR codes become more common and accepted, many businesses are using these labels to provide extra savings directly to their customers. When these codes are posted near the products, shoppers can use their mobile devices to quickly scan the images and receive exclusive savings that non-mobile users cannot access.
- Loyalty Programs – In today’s era of mobile-friendly businesses, gone are the days of many different loyalty cards all hanging from a keychain. Instead, loyalty programs can be accessed and updated digitally with apps on mobile devices. With just a few quick clicks on the screen, consumers have access to all their loyalty programs and rewards options, and they can see new deals and upcoming sales.
The Mobile Commerce Opportunity
A business having the ability to take advantage of mobile commerce opportunities is not just a pipe dream of something that may happen someday. It is real, possible and occurring in businesses everywhere. In fact,
- 73 percent of consumers right now have taken advantage of using their mobile devices in stores for many of these benefits.
- 38 percent of smartphone users have utilized business’ opportunities to make purchases using only their smartphones.
- 21 percent of shoppers use their mobile devices to search for and use coupons while they are already in a store. Not only are consumers interested in the possibility of using mobile devices to improve their shopping experiences, but they are also already taking advantage of the opportunities to access online benefits when they are available.
Mobile Set to Dominate Contactless Payments by 2013
In its annual “Optimized” report of winter 2012, Discover credit card company projected contactless payment improvements and popularity increases by the year 2013, showing a steep drop in non-mobile sales that year. Discover also predicted that non-mobile sales would be almost obsolete by the year 2015. This is in direct opposition to Discover’s projections of 2012 mobile sales increasing to nearly 10 times the amount by 2015.
This drastic turnabout of sales methods can be traced to Discover’s own contactless payment evolution in coordination with other credit companies. For example, in 2012, Discover had already installed contactless readers in many different locations around the country, amounting to 160,000 participating locations. These commonly frequented establishments included restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacies and public transit agencies.
With the appeal of in-store mobile commerce options skyrocketing for customers, businesses should consider getting on board immediately before this new technology leaves them behind.