The Mobile-Led Future of E-Commerce

Mobile is the Internet.

I recently read an eye-opening article about our dated interpretation of mobile Internet. In it, Andreessen Horowitz’s Benedict Evans challenges our conventional notion of mobile as a “cut-down subset of the ‘real’ Internet.”

Internet accessibility on the mobile device came decades after the computer, so it makes sense that we viewed mobile as a limited and lesser version the real thing.

After all, it was limited—in both display and in use. Websites designed for larger screens required tedious panning and zooming on small screens. Mobile was built for browsing—seeing the weather, checking news headlines—but not for commerce. Evans argues that this limitation framed our ‘mental model’ of how and where we used mobile. That it fit into “specific occasional places and times where we were walking or waiting or needed a single piece of information and didn’t have a PC.”

It’s a compelling argument that invoked strange feelings of remembrance and nostalgia for the days when my phone wasn’t glued to my hand. I’ve had a smartphone for eight years, but how and where I use it in 2015 is drastically different than in 2007.

Mobile is no longer the kid sister of the Internet. Evans asks us to invert our preconceived notions, “to think about mobile as the real Internet and the desktop as the limited, cut-down version.”

There is truth to that. The mobile of 2007 is not the mobile of 2015. The mobile of 2015 offers more functionality, is more engaging and more flexible than PCs. “Mobile today does not mean ‘when you’re mobile,” Evans states. “It means ubiquity—universal access to the Internet for anyone at any time.”

Accessibility, any place, any time.

Almost two-thirds of the U.S. population, or an estimated 189.7 million consumers, have access to smartphones. For many, it is their primary device for connecting to the online world. This represents a significant and lasting shift in the way consumers interact with companies. It breaks down barriers between the digital environment and the physical store, placing the store in the consumer’s pocket.

According to an Internet Retailer report, mobile is now taking a bigger slice of the e-commerce pie. Mobile commerce will account for 30% of total U.S. e-commerce sales by the end of 2015, compared to 25% in 2014.

Internet Retailer predicts that 2015 mobile commerce sales will total $104.5 billion. That’s an increase of 38.7% over 2014 mobile commerce sales of $75.03 billion. Furthermore, mobile commerce will grow nearly 3X faster than U.S. e-commerce sales in 2015, which is expected to grow 15% to an estimated $350.64 billion.

“Mobile is far outpacing the growth of e-commerce as a whole. It’s growing faster than e-commerce in ‘90s when online shopping was just taking off,” stated Susan Wu of Forrester Research.

Retailers are adapting their focus to how consumers increasingly like to shop, from their mobile devices. To succeed, they need to develop a deep understanding of consumers’ needs, wants, and objectives to make mobile engagements, simpler, faster, better, and more intuitive.

From standalone apps to responsive websites, retailers are tailoring content and expanding features to create intelligently inconsistent experiences designed and optimized for any device.

Check out our infographic: Shoppers Have Your Store In Their Pocket

Claire McCracken
Claire McCracken
c.mccracken@snap36.com

Claire is a Marketing Coordinator at Snap36. She recently graduated from the University of Dayton with a bachelor's degree in Communications and Marketing. Before working at Snap36, Claire had a marketing internship with a construction company in Chicago.

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