October 11, 2011, 1:04 PM

Mobile Commerce Forum Report: The mobile opportunity is in the numbers

Research presented at MCF explains who’s mobile, what they’re doing and what shoppers want.

Lead Photo

Jennifer Vlahavas

There are strong arguments for retailers to invest in mobile commerce, even if traffic from mobile devices represents only a small portion of web traffic today, two presenters said this morning at Internet Retailer’s Mobile Commerce Forum in Houston.

Jennifer Vlahavas of comScore Inc. and Bernardine Wu of e-commerce consultancy FitforCommerce presented research that delved into consumers’ adoption of the mobile web and what it means for merchants.

Vlahavas, senior director of retail and trade verticals at web measurement research firm comScore, said 4.5% of all web traffic in July came from smartphones and 1.5% came from tablet computers. “While that may not seem like a lot, the folks that are accessing the web from these devices are a highly sought-after, higher-income audience,” she said. She said 18.7 million consumers accessed retail content via mobile browsers during the second quarter of this year and reported that 36% of those consumers have household incomes greater than $100,000, compared with 27% of all mobile users.

Vlahavas said companies that assume consumers will just come to their regular web sites for information if they can’t easily find what they want on the mobile web are risking losing valuable customers. “Consumers are choosing how they want to interact and if they have a poor experience with your brand on mobile, they may not wait to come back and connect once they get home. They’ll just go to a competitor,” she said.

Still, only half of companies had mobile marketing or mobile commerce in place as of April, up from 42% a year earlier, said Wu of FitforCommerce. Of those companies that have mobile in place, 34% are marketing via mobile, 64% have a fully optimized mobile web site and 40% have a mobile app.

Wu said the 50% of companies that don’t have a mobile presence cite multiple reasons for not going mobile. 45% say it takes too much investment to go mobile, 31% say there isn’t someone at the company making an argument for it, 24% say senior management isn’t behind it and 25% say their customers aren’t mobile. Wu said companies that think their customers aren’t mobile had better take a closer look at their analytics because they’ll see that they’re wrong.

Vlahavas presented data that showed consumers’ rapid adoption of web-enabled mobile devices. 50.4% of mobile phones bought during the second quarter of 2011 were smartphones, and in July data plan subscriptions grew 29% year over year. Consumers purchase data plans when they buy mobile devices that can access the Internet.

She said these developments will help retailers that have mobile sites and apps. “This growth will facilitate consumers using their mobile devices for retail,” she said. “Retailers that choose to change along with consumers will ultimately win.”

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