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Mobile in the News

Mobile commerce is expected to be among the dominant topics at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention and EXPO in New York City, with break-out sessions and a super-session devoted to the fast-growing channel. Two recent studies offer insights into the channel. Here are some highlights:

Growth: Mobile online shopping (excluding travel) in the United States was expected to more than double, to total more than $3.4 billion by the end of 2010, according to ABI Research. Travel-related purchases (airline tickets, hotels, etc.) will add another $1.5 billion.

“Mobile online shopping growth in the United States has been fueled this year by the massive migration of consumers to smart phones, the explosion of highly innovative use-cases deployed by retailers and third-party players, and a significant shift in consumer behavior as more consumers choose mobile shopping over traditional online shopping,” commented ABI senior analyst Mark Beccue.

In Japan, where mobile online shopping has been commonplace for several years, mobile is responsible for nearly 17% of all e-commerce sales. In 2015, ABI Research believes, mobile online shopping will be responsible for $163 billion in sales globally, 12% of global e-commerce turnover.

Mobile marketing practice director Neil Strother added, “Beyond direct sales generated via mobile, innovative retailers will use mobile online shopping to introduce a broad- range of mobile marketing campaigns and CRM programs.”

Smart Phones and Bargain Hunting: A survey by Accenture revealed that the growing use of smart phone technology and the economic downturn have encouraged cost-conscious consumers to explore alternative retail channels to secure bargains.

According to the survey, 79% of smart phone users would find it useful to download money-off coupons to their phones, and 73% would like to receive instant money-off coupons as they pass by an item in a store.

Accenture’s findings suggest that couponing could become a more important part of the retail experience as smart phone technology becomes more widespread, and if retailers are adept at using customer analytics to target messages and deals to consumers. Notably, 48% of conventional cell phone users plan to buy a smart phone in the next 12 months.

The results of the survey also indicate that smart phone technology is changing the relationship between customers and retailers. Many smart phone users said that they prefer using their mobile device rather than interacting with a store employee for simple tasks. According to the survey, 73% favor using their smart phone to handle simple tasks compared with 15% who favor interaction with an employee. Similarly, 71% favor using their smart phone to identify a store with a desired item in stock, while 17% would prefer to get that information by speaking to an employee.

“Smart phones will permanently change the relationship between the store and the shopper,” said Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “Today’s tech-savvy consumer wants a seamless shopping experience across store, mobile or online at a time that suits them.”

Privacy, however, remains a key concern of consumers, and could have a negative impact on the growing use of smart phones for shopping. More than half of respondents (54%) worry that using smart phones will erode their privacy. Among the other smart phone shopping concerns voiced, 59% fear losing the personal touch from store employees, and 39% believe that products would get more expensive.