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Mobile commerce paradigm shifts


Consumers are changing the way they browse and shop for goods using mobile devices.

According to the State of Retailing Online 2016 study from Forrester Research, and Bizrate Insights, growing use of smartphones by consumers, a shift in investments by technology companies and continued optimization strategies from retailers has landed smartphones on top as a driver of mobile sales and traffic for retail companies.

Specifically, retailers surveyed report smartphone sales accounted for 17% of their total online sales in 2015, edging ahead of the 14% generated via tablets. Overall, retailers said sales from smartphone devices grew 53% from the previous year, while sales from tablet devices grew 32%

In addition, smartphones represented 29% of mobile retail traffic, roughly double the 15% share held by tablets.

However, despite strong growth in both smartphone and tablet sales, retailers continue to keep their mobile investments at a more moderate level. Thirty percent of those surveyed say they invested less than $10,000 on smartphone platforms in 2015, and 17% kept budgets between $10,000 and $50,000.

When it comes to tablets, the investments are even smaller. Nearly four in 10 (37%) said they made no additional investment in their tablet offerings in 2015, compared to 18% who left smartphones out of their investment plans for 2015. Eleven percent of retailers surveyed said they put $10,000 to $50,000 into tablet investments during 2015.

That said, the report did find that more mobile investment is on the horizon for retailers, especially in smartphones. The survey found that one-third of retailers surveyed plan to grow their smartphone investments more than 20% in 2016, and another 34% will grow their investments between 1 and 20%. A smaller amount (22%) will grow their tablet investment more than 20% in 2016.

Tablets are not necessarily losing all their importance to the omnichannel retail experience. Findings suggest they may ultimately find a bigger purpose in stores, helping store associates provide greater service to customers.

The survey found that of the 36% of retailers who use mobile devices in stores, one-quarter of those use tablets. Two in five (44%) say their associates use tablets to show additional products not available in stores and four in 10 use the devices to send e-receipts. Another 23% use them to check inventory in warehouses and 21% use tablets to check their actual in-store inventory.

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