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Mobile consumer behavior reshaping digital commerce

Mobile consumers will account for nearly half of all e-commerce transactions in a couple of years. Find out what sets them apart from traditional digital e-commerce users.

If you think your mobile commerce strategy involves just a slight revamping of traditional sales and marketing plans, think again.

According to a Forrester Research report, 82% of U.S. consumers make purchasing decisions when in a store and 56% use smartphones to check prices online at least "most of the time." Further, data from the Retail Info Systems and Cognizant report "Cutting through the Chaos in the Age of 'Mobile Me,'" found that mobile devices aren't just expediting shopping behavior -- they're changing it.

The key takeaways from the survey of 5,000 consumers: Mobile devices are overtaking traditional desktop-based e-commerce, and mobile consumer behavior differs significantly from that of traditional digital consumers. At the same time, mobile customers aren't a homogenous block -- their preferences vary according to their own demographics, preferences -- sometimes known as buyer personas. The report's key findings include the following:

  • Mobile commerce comprises a significant portion of e-commerce transactions. One-third of e-commerce's business worldwide is transacted via mobile devices, and the report cites a Goldman Sachs forecast that mobile commerce will approach nearly half of all e-commerce transactions by 2018.
  • Mobile shoppers behave differently than computer-based consumers. When in stores, mobile shoppers tend to scan product barcodes and read reviews more often than computer-based shoppers and therefore "require different sales, marketing and service strategies."
  • Mobile consumers' behavior differs significantly from traditional digital consumer behavior.
    Mobile shoppers are not all alike. Mobile consumer behavior is differentiated by "age, gender, technology preferences and education level," according to the report. Mobile consumers between 18 and 34 years old, for example, shop late at night more often than any other age group, and a higher percentage of late-night mobile shoppers are women. When shopping online, women use mobile devices at a rate 61% higher than men, who are 27% more likely than women to subscribe to location-based alerts from retailers.
  • Mobile shoppers like loyalty programs. While all consumers are concerned about their privacy, mobile consumers are 46% more willing than computer-based buyers to provide information if the result is a more personalized experience. They're also more likely to be part of three or more loyalty programs.
  • Mobile shoppers do have privacy limits. They're willing to share personal details and shopping preferences only within loyalty and rewards programs. The report strongly suggests that companies account for this aspect of mobile consumer behavior in their marketing and sales strategies.

If you are thinking about a mobile customer relationship management strategy and mobile commerce strategy, don't overlook the importance of its differences from traditional approaches.

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This was first published in March 2016

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