Mobile will catch up to e-commerce by 2021
Mobile commerce retail sales are expected to account for about 28% of all e-commerce retail sales this year, and about 45% of all e-commerce sales by 2021, according to a Business Insider Intelligence report emailed to Retail Dive.
Consumers spend almost three hours each day accessing the internet from smartphones, and while 85% of that time is spent in-app versus mobile web browsing, only 51% of m-commerce purchase were made in-app, with 49% coming via mobile web, according to the report.
In-store retail sales are still growing — about 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2017, and by as much as 4% two quarters earlier — but total e-commerce sales, including m-commerce, are growing about three- to four-times faster, according to the report.
Mobile commerce’s inevitable rise to dominance is no secret. Heading into the holidays a Trustlook survey suggested more people would be doing their holiday shopping via mobile, and that they felt more secure than ever about doing so.
Yet many companies operating commerce apps aren't investing as much in the mobile opportunity as they perhaps should be. The BI report quotes a finding from the BDO retail Compass Survey of CFOs last year that found only 38% of companies are planning to increase their mobile app investments even as m-commerce continues to grow sharply. Also, even fewer — 31% — plan to invest in optimization of their mobile web experiences.
The amount of investment doesn't tell the whole story, of course. Retailers also need make sure they are putting their money into the right places, innovating in areas that can help them generate sales or bring them closer to customers. Some retailers in fact are being pretty aggressive with how and where they are investing in mobile. Boxed recently announced new augmented reality and chatbot capabilities, for example, and several other retailers recently have embraced one or both of those technologies.
There continues to be a lot of debate about where retailers should focus their mobile efforts — in their mobile apps or in mobile-friendly web sites and search. The increasingly clear answer is that they need to do both, and with traffic and purchasing activity increasingly going through mobile, they also need to feed both with increasing investment spent on projects that can truly help them grow revenue and retain customers. They also need to build apps and sites that are robust enough to handle a future in which mobile commerce and e-commerce truly are synonymous. We aren't there yet, but retailers should prepare for a mobile-focused future.