Mobile to change impulse purchases forever: StorefrontBacktalk

Mobile devices create new types of impulse purchases. At the same time, the in-store research capabilities that phones present will wipe out many time-honored impulse buys, according to StorefrontBacktalk.

The impulse purchase is a critical tool for driving retail profits, but an unintended result of the recent mobile shopping craze is that impulse purchases are likely going to be permanently changed, as the phones allow for new kinds of impulse purchases while killing many others.

There are many examples of new kinds of mobile impulse purchases. There are almost as many examples where mobile is killing impulse purchases.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Evan Schuman, editor of, Whippany, NJ. Here is what he had to say:

What is the key finding of the study?
The key conclusion is that mobile will radically change impulse buys. And those changes will happen in opposite ways, with mobile creating a bunch of new impulse sales opportunities while it will kill many existing ones.

This is not without precedent.

Self-checkout had a similarly disruptive impact on impulse purchases. It forced retailers to rethink impulse.

Mobile will do that again, but in a much more dramatic and substantive way.

Why is it surprising?
Most retailers—at least the ones we usually talk with—haven’t calculated in this particular impact of going mobile.

That is true in that most are not taking advantage of the new opportunities and also not making impulse changes to deal with the mobile losses. It is a classic unanticipated consequence.

What is driving growth in the areas of mobile shopping, payments, commerce and retail?
That is a deliciously broad question. Do you mean revenue growth or marketshare growth?

If you mean revenue, I think pent-up consumer demand plus a slowly improving economy are the overwhelming factors.

I think the newness of mobile—and snail-speed acceptance from major retail chains—is driving most of that activity right now.

Apple’s iPhone and Android are certainly playing a major role as well, as they give consumers reasons to test these functions.

What is the outlook for 2011?
In general, I would say 2011 will be a huge year for mobile.

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily