We live in an exciting time for mobile technology. Not only are consumers able to access the Internet from their phones, they can also connect via newer connected devices, such as wearables and smart speakers. However, while the mobile commerce universe continued to grow in 2018, and consumers increasingly embraced mobile ordering, not all forecasts—including demand for voice ordering and wearables—met expectations.
As the halfway mark approaches for the year, reviewing the mobile commerce trends of 2018 now will help predict what to expect from the second half of the year and into 2019.
Mobile Commerce Trends: 2018 is Driven by Tech, Access, and Apps
Going into 2018, many marketers expected mobile commerce to continue growing rapidly, and some of those predictions panned out. By the fourth quarter of 2017, mobile accounted for 60% of traffic to retail sites and nearly 40% of orders from retailer sites. There are a number of reasons for such expansive growth, including:
- Technological advancement: When smartphone technology first launched, even some of the most advanced phones worked on very basic 1G networks with limited Internet connectivity. Now, even low-cost models offer 4G, which is keeping people consistently connected in most locales.
- Larger market: As new low-cost, high-tech devices become available and additional networks are implemented, more consumers around the world have access to the Internet. In some cases, smartphones are their only regular access to the web, making mobile shopping on them the norm.
- Shopping apps: As mobile commerce has grown, so has adoption of shopping apps, with mobile shopping app downloads jumping 54% in 2017. As consumers increasingly turn to their phones to purchase items, they’ll also look to them for deals and rewards. Shopping apps like Shopkick streamline this process, allowing consumers to collect rewards for shopping, while simultaneously making the path to purchase as direct as possible.
Smartphone use has driven the rapid growth of mobile commerce. For some, smartphones may be the only device that connects them to the Internet regularly; for others, these devices offer the ability to multitask in the midst of a hectic schedule and make purchases no matter where they are.
The consumer base in the smartphone market is diverse, which is why mobile is becoming a major platform for connecting consumers with brands. However, while the rise of mobile commerce met its forecasted growth, some predictions didn’t pan out.
Low Demand for Wearables Led to Less Than Anticipated Voice Shopping
Mobile commerce may be growing, but one area where many brands jumped the gun is shopping on devices such as wearables and smart speakers. While voice ordering was expected to become an industry disruptor, a recent survey revealed that demand continues to lag. Only two in five consumers own a voice-assisted device, and 60% of those have yet to use one to complete a purchase.
Wearables fared even worse, with only 30% of smartwatch owners acknowledging they’ve used their device to make a purchase. Growth in neither wearables nor voice ordering has matched the mobile commerce market’s overall growth for several reasons, including:
- Lack of access: While smartphone use has reached near market saturation, neither wearables nor smart speakers come close to penetration. Wearables and smart home tech are both expensive, and neither is considered a necessity—unlike the mobile phone.
- Steep learning curve: Even when consumers have these devices, they elect to not use their mobile shopping features, likely due to a steep learning curve for voice ordering. Those who don’t understand the process are especially unlikely to share financial information for fear of failure, like buying too much of an item.
- Limited consumer desire: For voice ordering to act as a disruption to the mobile commerce industry, consumers have to want to adopt the method. Many consumers prefer purchasing by searching for or swiping on products and would continue to choose those methods even with a voice option available.
Still, while 2018 is unlikely to see voice and wearable ordering disrupt the industry, as voice-assisted and wearable devices systems become more affordable, easier to use, and more sophisticated, demand for them will rise. Until that time, brands are best off focusing on smartphone-based mobile advertising, which connects to consumers in their preferred purchase environment: their smartphones. Any brand with a strong mobile marketing campaign now can expect to hold or even grow market share during the remainder of 2018.
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