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Amazon sees more than 50pc of holiday shoppers come through mobile

Underscoring Amazon’s leading mobile experience for its site and apps, the online giant is reporting that more than 50 percent of its customers shopped via mobile over the holidays.

Not only did more than half of Amazon customers shop via mobile over the holidays, but they purchased at very high frequencies, with its customers ordering more than five toys per second from a mobile device from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. It was not all happy news for Amazon, however, with some holiday shipping glitches.

“Amazon has successfully bridged the gap between mobile commerce and online ecommerce by establishing trust with consumers ,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston. “Since their dedicated mobile sites and apps look and feel similar to their main sites, new-to-mobile consumers feel comfortable converting sales in the mobile context.

“Amazon also leverages the power of mobile-influenced sales by allowing items in a mobile shopping cart to appear in the laptop or desktop shopping cart where consumers can enter their payment information via a context they might be more comfortable in,” he said.

Mr. Kerr is not affiliated with Amazon. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

Amazon has been steadily improving its mobile offerings both in terms of the checkout process and product search and research.

“Mobile shopping is increasingly popular,” said Julie Law, public relations and communications representative at Amazon, Seattle. “Millions of Amazon customers shop exclusively on a mobile device and tens of thousands of new customers make their first-ever Amazon purchase via mobile devices every day.

“Amazon has a free app for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7 devices which allow shoppers to quickly search, compare prices, read reviews, shop Gold Box Deals and make a secure purchase on,” she said. “To make shopping even easier, Amazon Mobile includes helpful features that allow users to scan a bar code, snap a photo, or type a search to quickly compare prices and check availability.

“Amazon customers have full access to their existing cart, wish lists, payment and Amazon Prime member shipping options, order history, package tracking and 1-Click settings. Customers can go from ‘I want that’ to ‘I bought that’ in under 30 seconds.”

This holiday season, Amazon broke records both on mobile and in general.

According to Amazon, this year was a record-setting holiday season for Amazon Prime. More than one million customers became new Prime members in the third week of December.

Prime was so popular during the holidays that Amazon limited new Prime membership signups during peak periods to ensure service to current members was not impacted by the surge in new membership.

Additionally, more than 36.8 million items were ordered worldwide on Cyber Monday, which is a record-breaking 426 items per second.

Cyber Monday holiday shopping weekend was also the best ever for Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. The best-selling tablets were the Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HDX 7” and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9”.

The Amazon Appstore selection more than doubled in 2013. There are now more than 100,000 apps and games in the Amazon Appstore and on Kindle Fire devices.

Prime Instant Video also saw growth in 2013, increasing from 33,000 to more than 40,000 movies and TV episodes in 2013.

Shipping glitches
Despite the record-breaking sales, Amazon still met some challenges over the holiday season.

According to Bloomberg, some packages did not make it customers by Christmas because of the large amount of deliveries.

In response to the problem, Amazon offered customers $20 gift cards and refunds on shipping charges. It also blamed the United Parcel Service for the delays.

As an online-only retailer, Amazon is normally ahead of the game with shipping and accountability. This, however, points to the possibility of mistakes even for such an online titan.

Online giant
As retailers with physical presence shift the focus on mobile to in-store, Amazon finds itself in a unique situation as an online-only retailer. However, Amazon manages to find its own use cases for mobile.

According to a report from Pure Oxygen Labs, Amazon is getting mobile redirects from search results right (see story).

Amazon has also jumped into social, taking cues from Pinterest with its Amazon Collections (see story).

Perhaps signifying a slight move into the in-store uses for mobile, Amazon recently acquired GoPago, a mobile payments company that offers a mobile POS system (see story).

Whether or not Amazon fits into the typical retail box, it is definitely doing well in mobile.

According to Mr. Kerr, Amazon is expected to have converted more than $20 billion in mobile commerce sales in 2013.

“Amazon is acting on a vision that was seen and mapped out years before other retailers saw the potential of mobile,” Mr. Kerr said. “Mobile commerce has helped crown Amazon as a leader, regarding capturing the upside of omnichannel shopping and other retailers should take notice.

“Amazon greets you personally when you arrive, syncs shopping carts across all device interfaces and, most importantly, has mastered the delivery of a trusted one-click checkout for mobile,” he said. “And the cherry on top of the sundae is prepaid free shipping. This creates loyalty.

“Loyalty and trust are the two most important ingredients in the recipe for mobile commerce success. By building up a proven track record with consumers and combining this with margin-busting prices, Amazon has set the bar high. This has benefited the entire online shopping space, as Amazon’s rising tide of customer comfort with mobile is raising all boats.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York