A Very Merry Ozzie Mobile Christmas?

Nov 27

A Very Merry Ozzie Mobile Christmas?

This is a post I just completed for Digital Cafe about how we’re, well, not going to have a very merry mobile Christmas this year despite consumers enthusiasm for mobile shopping. The article points to why…


It was also picked up by Internet Retailing and Anthill. Thanks guys!

According to eBay, Australia is one of the fastest growing markets for smartphones use in shopping. Not only are they looking to achieve $5.6 million in Oz sales for eBay and PayPal via mobiles, but their research shows that smartphones are heavily in use on a shoppers path to purchase.

Some of the key facts from their recent report (Nov ‘12) ‘Secure Insight: Customer Discovery’ – 47% of us are using smartphones to locate product information in advance of making purchases and 25% of us are using tablets for accessing the same kinds of information.

Aussies are actually making purchases via their mobiles every 2 seconds – not bad for a country just shy of 23 million people.

But as PayPal’s VP in Oz Jeff Clementz points out, ‘discovery is a two-way street between retailers and consumers, and when the former makes an effort to understand the latter, the benefits are exponential.’

And this brings me to the mobile picture of Christmas in Australia, 2012. The last couple of years have been earmarked as being ‘the year of mobile’. I think we all realise that that is perhaps a few years away. And I think we all know why too – it’s not consumer adoption that’s holding back the tide of mobile, it’s retailer’s lack of adoption– and just new technologies – that’s crippled it.

I don’t have to remind you about Experian’s latest report “Retail in Australia: It’s Time to Embrace the Digital Future” – 53% of retailers in Australia don’t have an online sales channel, despite 2/3 admitting that international online retailers have affected their business. 1/3 of the 30 top retail websites used by Australians are based outside of Australia. We’re also spending more on overseas retailers than local ones – more than 50% of online revenues go offshore.

In Australia, the lack of adoption of mobile by local retailers in hampered by a couple of things. One is that they are still catching up with online. If they’re doing that, they’re also very busy building new platforms to support an omni-commerce play. No small feat but as most retailers will openly admit, they move at a glacial pace.

That means that the order of importance for digital development is platforms, followed by online and then mobile. They don’t hear the chant ‘mobile first’ that is sprouted elsewhere in the world. Guess what – consumers are mobile, not tech and with 94%+ of sales still from bricks-and-mortar stores, there’s no escaping that mobile is the future of retail.

Now I’m afraid I am going to have to go to some US market stats to paint a picture of what mobile’s place in retail sales is this year – but as I have pointed out often in my blog and elsewhere, our shopping behaviour is pretty much on par with the US and UK (other than QR codes where only 60% of us know what they are – but let’s face it, we’re not seeing rapid consumer adoption elsewhere in the world anyway).

First of all, there’s no doubt that mobile commerce is going up. It’s expected to account for 20% of US online sales in 2012, according to IBM. PriceGrabber’s data reveals that 16% of consumers are planning to shop from a mobile device this Christmas season, compared to 13% last year and 9% in 2010.

Why shop on mobile this Christmas? Well, it’s similar to online. 76% of consumers because they don’t want to fight the crowds in bricks-and-mortar stores;  75% said they enjoy the convenience of shopping around the clock and 72% said they like the simplicity of price comparison shopping via mobile.

In-store shoppers will use mobile devices to compare prices, look up product reviews and potentially online from inside the bricks-and-mortar stores.

For in-store mobiles use is still focused on price comparison – 74% of shoppers will use mobile for this purpose (PriceGrabber). 54% plan to view retailer emails with coupons or discounts while shopping in stores.

And mobile shopping app useage is only on the increase. 31% of PriceGrabber’s survey respondents indicating they already have shopping apps on their smartphone, and 82% said they plan to use shopping-related apps to save money this Christmas season. 32% said they are planning to download more shopping-related apps this year.

A big trend in the US – and one that StreetHawk is pioneering here, is geo-campaigns. Working well with other media, it allows retailers to target shoppers with offers via phone notifications while they are around stores.  It means the retailer has to have their own app – all the better for mobile buying and the ability to integrate into in-store promotions via barcodes and loyalty programs.

In the US marketing media much is made of pushing SMS in a geo-location context. Unfortunately that is not possible in Australia, and even in the US doing SMS based on customer information and location is pretty hard.

StreetHawk has developed a retail and brand solution which enables retailers to use the information they have shoppers to target them with personalised and relevant messages while they are around stores.  The sole purpose of this is to create footfall (or foot traffic) which is still a retailer’s lifeblood.

If you compare phone notifications to its ‘sister media’ text (more like identical twin on smartphones…), the stats are impressive. The open rate for texts is 98% – compared to 22% for emails. The average number of emails a customer receives a month is 1,216. The average number of texts? 178.

However, despite the fact that research shows that SMS can produce engagement rates of up to 8x higher than retailers normally achieve via email marketing, many retailers are still merely dabbling in SMS. If they tried our smart phone notifications (like ‘you bought a pair of pants from our New collection, why not come into store and try our blouses…) imagine how much higher the engagement rate would be.

Early next year we hope to have some case studies in market for what personalised notifications can do for in-store sales, until then, for those that love their smartphone as much as me, have a very happy, mobile Christmas.



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