4 minute read
Technological advancements have helped push the shopping experience to new heights, but some of the largest changes have been noted in one area specifically – mobile. Not only has smartphone usage grown, but they are now a reliable alternative to computers for an efficient shopping experience.
Smartphones are an integral part of people’s lives, with most spending almost three hours a day on their phones. Previously, phones were only used for communication, but today they’re used to browse the web and even shop. Smartphones have made people’s lives easier in many ways, especially when they shop online.
Mobile devices are easier to use
Today, smartphones are impressive, easy-to-use handheld computers. Their increase in usability is partially because network providers now give their customers a faster experience. Mobile network speed has improved from 1G to 4G – similar to the internet’s evolution from dialup to high speed. The boost to network speed lets webpages load faster, which makes the mobile experience more convenient. The faster shoppers can find products on their phone, the more they’ll adopt mobile commerce. But speed isn’t the only enhancement that has made people want to shop on their phone.
Up until recently cellphone companies strived for smaller phones, but now it seems to be the opposite. Smartphones such as the iPhone 6 Plus or Samsung 7 can barely fit in your pocket. There are benefits to having a bigger phone: a larger screen makes it easier to navigate, read, and type – all which improve the customer experience. Before keyboard improvements, typing was a chore. The old number pads and small keyboards have been replaced with the QWERTY keyboard, letting users type more efficiently. An added bonus is that if you still don’t want to type you can simply speak into your phone using the microphone text option. And now that shoppers are actually able to navigate effectively on their phones, retailers are starting to design experiences specifically for mobile shoppers through app development.
The power of apps
Over the past several years, we have seen more people start to shop via mobile apps and more retailers use them instead of mobile browsers. This is because mobile browsers make it hard to create a consistent experience across all smartphones. But through the use of apps, retailers can focus on the experience they want to offer and tailor it to their customers. It also lets them effectively engage with customers through push notifications. For instance, if you exit an app and your cart is full you’ll get a notification sent to your phone prompting you to return. If you focus on selling through the standard mobile browser, push notifications are off the table and you might be at a disadvantage.
However, retailers find it difficult to get shoppers to download their apps. Limited storage space on smartphones is one of the reasons people in the U.S. are only using three apps frequently. This has forced retailers to be innovative and not only create their specialized apps, but look to meet customers where they spend the most time – on messaging apps.
Out of all available apps, messaging apps are the most commonly used. Previously, messaging apps were only thought of as a way to communicate with friends or family. Except today you can engage with businesses the same way you would with your friends, and even purchase products by chatting with a retailer. By interacting through messaging apps, customers now have a user-friendly way to shop where they find it easiest.
Facebook Messenger has changed a lot since retailers infiltrated messaging apps. Last year, Facebook partnered with Uber to let users order a ride while they chat with their friends. Facebook also introduced the ability for retailers to develop chatbots within Messenger, which 1-800-Flowers customized to let customers select, order, and pay for flowers by talking to a bot. As technology advances, more people are turning to their phones as a convenient way to both shop and pay, online and in-store.
Is mobile NFC the future of payments?
The way people pay for products, both online and off, has changed since smartphones and near-field communication (NFC) hit the market. NFC-enabled credit cards create an invisible payment process with a single tap. Now, it’s the same for mobile phones. Smartphones are challenging the idea of ‘cash is king’ with mobile wallets, which let your smartphone become your new source of money and loyalty cards.
Mobile wallet payments are positioned to be the future way people pay. BI Intelligence estimates that half the U.S. population will try in-store mobile payments by 2020, presenting businesses with an opportunity to expand into new markets.
Large banks and credit card producers are looking to snag a piece of the new mobile wallet market. Just a few weeks ago, MasterCard and Citi Bank partnered to let Android owners use their phones to pay at POS terminals, and they’re not the first financial institution to take the leap. One day, we may swap our abundance of plastic for mobile wallets.
Where to go next
It’s evident that people are changing the way they shop. For a quarter of smartphone users, it’s already a mobile-only world and m-commerce is expected to continue to grow rapidly. This movement has caught the attention of big players, in both the tech and banking industries, pushing mobile into the spotlight. With all the investment pouring into m-commerce, it’s only a matter of time until phones become the preferred way to shop.