Is There an App for That? Online Retail Through the Eyes of a Cell Phone

June 4, 2014

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

Remember when a cell phone was the size of a shoebox, weighed about five pounds and had an antenna triple the length of the phone? The thought of a razor-thin phone with “magical” powers only existed on The Jetsons. Fast-forward 50 years. We don’t have flying vehicles, but the capabilities of mobile phones have skyrocketed. And our beloved devices have received more facelifts than all the Real Housewives combined.

Recent research from comScore sheds even more light on how integral our phones have become in our everyday lives.

For example, 74% of the total online population in the US (some 166 million people) own a smartphone. This steady adoption has revolutionized media engagement — a huge opportunity for retailers.

Mobile has become the go-to online medium for consumers to engage with retail brands — everything from purchasing transactions to customer support via social media. Compared with desktop computers and tablets, cell phones took the cake, yielding the highest percent of searches that resulted in purchase. Could you have imagined the ability to search the web with that ancient brick, let alone using it to streamline your shopping experience?

Percent of Searches Resulting in Purchases

Digital Coupons

US mobile coupon usage is up 41% in the past year, comScore reports. Consumers even ranked mobile coupons as one of their top ten mobile-shopping tools. Target was quick to jump aboard the digital coupon boat with its coupon app, Cartwheel. Even while ironing out a few of the app’s kinks, Target hit the bull’s eye (no pun attended), as evidenced by huge gains in app usage (see chart below). Target’s mobile usage is up 251% from last year, with Cartwheel accounting for 80% of the total increase in time spent via mobile. Haven’t heard of the app? Well, you’re welcome. Cartwheel deals even work on top of coupons, sales and REDcard discounts — a major perk for Target fanatics, and in turn a major perk for Target’s retail profit. Pat on the back for Target.

Target Mobile App Happy

Unlike large retailers like Target, mid-market retailers selling through marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay have enjoyed mobile success through the wildly popular Amazon and eBay mobile apps. In fact, the comScore chart below shows that Amazon and eBay still dominate the space, with the highest mobile app usage. Find out more in our eBook, Building a Mobile App for Your Brand? STOP. There Are (Already) Apps for That!

Leading Retailers

Many Millennials

For retailers, it’s important to know and understand millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 33. Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old. Nearly one out of every three 18-to-24-year-olds shops only on mobile. Millennials are the first generation to come of age in this digital era. So, understanding their mindset and consumer habits will not only help retailers tailor marketing messages, but also help optimise a customer’s experience with a brand.

Mobile technology will continue to rapidly progress. Consumer habits have proven that mobile technology isn’t a fad — it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. Who knows, maybe in the next 50 years m-commerce will have eliminated the need for dressing rooms — simply snap a pic of the garment to view on yourself. The advancements are limitless.

Blog post by Jordan Nowlin, Social Media & Blog Manager, ChannelAdvisor