Smartphone and tablet technology has quickly changed the ways consumers shop. eMarketer predicts 15 percent of all online retail sales will take place on mobile devices this year, with the majority of those sales expected to come from tablets.
While it is unlikely that mobile devices will completely replace traditional computers, recent research from the Consumer Electronics Association found that in households with both a laptop and one or more mobile devices, people are more likely to decrease time spent using the laptop. However, very few people reported ceasing laptop use altogether in favor of a smartphone or tablet.
“Smartphones and tablets have enriched, diversified and transformed the ecosystem of consumer electronics,” said Rhonda Daniel, senior manager of market research at the CEA. “As a result, mobile device owners are re-proportioning the time they spend using other standalone CE devices. While many single-function devices continue to play a distinct and relevant role in our digital lives, consumers are gravitating toward connected mobile devices able to perform multiple functions.”
Unlike smartphones, tablet users can treat the device like a PC, Online Media Daily said. Consumers may use smartphones to research products or check availability before making a purchase, but tablets are more likely to capture the conversion rate. The eMarketer research found tablet ownership is almost a guarantee that the person will use it for ecommerce purchases. Retail websites receive the highest tablet traffic, followed closely by auto and travel and hospitality sites, Online Media Daily reported. Smartphone users frequently visit media sites.
Importance of mobile technology for online advertisers
In the CEA survey, 85 percent of smartphone owners reported they surf the internet and 89 percent check email on the device. For tablet users, 92 percent browse the web and 83 percent check their email. The amount of internet usage occurring on mobile devices could present a significant opportunity for companies that use targeted advertisements to attract potential customers to a website.
Mobile shopping may shift some purchases away from stores. According to eMarketer, mobile devices drive significant ecommerce transactions because consumers aren’t confined to regular business hours, and it can lead to impulse purchases since people don’t have to leave the comfort of their homes to make a purchase.
Consumers who research products or make purchases from mobile devices present a great advantage to retailers, because smartphones in particular contain a great deal of information about the person, including geographical location, The Financial Times said. This information is valuable to marketers because they can target consumers with meaningful ads. Mobile ads can have a higher level of engagement than other types of advertising, such as desktop, print or television.
The FT reported 50 percent of the U.S. population owned mobile devices in 2012, so it is highly likely a majority of a company’s client base surfs the web from a mobile device. However, only 3 percent of all advertising dollars are currently spent on mobile. Since smartphone and tablet usage has increased to such a high degree over the past few years, this form of marketing will become even more important as time goes on.