I remember when I got my first cellphone, about ten years ago. It was capable of not much more than phone calls and text messages—and of course, Snake.
Fast forward to today—how things have changed. Today, we are in the golden age of mobile. Mobile technology is everywhere, and its functionality is ever-increasing. (With the exception of Snake, which seems to have disappeared off the map.)
One of the areas in which mobile is flourishing is mobile commerce. Recently, there have been several key developments in this area. In today’s post, I’d like to go over five developments that are part of larger trends to note in the mobile commerce space.
- Mobile accounting for 50.3% of all e-commerce traffic. Last month, Shopify published an update highlighting that mobile (including tablet) is now the go-to way to shop online. Shopify attributes this in part to the role of social networks driving traffic to e-commerce sites, as well as the fact that mobile shopping is “always-on shopping” since people are virtually inseparable from their smartphones.
- Twitter’s foray into mobile commerce. A few weeks ago, Twitter announced that it is testing a way for users to discover and buy products on Twitter. A percentage of Twitter users will find that Tweets from Twitter partners now feature a “Buy” button, enabling direct purchase from the Tweet. In time, Twitter plans to bring in more partners and expand the shopping functionality across its user base.
- Apple Pay's imminent release. The notion of mobile payments is not a new one—Google Wallet, among others, has been around for the last two years—but Apple brings unique packaging to its payment system as it seeks to transform the mobile payment landscape. Apple Pay will enable one-touch pay on the iPhone 6 at 220,000 stores starting in October.
- Mobile money as a common phenomenon in Africa. With Apple Pay taking off, mobile payments across the US might start to become more commonplace. As it stands, 62% of Americans “never” or “hardly ever” pay using their smartphone. But in Africa, this is the standard. In Kenya, 68% of people who own a cell phone regularly use their mobile to make or receive payments. Half of Ugandans do the same. Perhaps Americans have a thing or two to learn from their African counterparts: the use of cash costs Americans $200 billion a year.
- Sears allowing customers to make returns and exchanges from their cars. Many retailers today offer in-store pickup or ship-to-store, and a handful have ventured into curbside options. Sears recently decided to extend this to returns and exchanges through its mobile app. The new feature has been rolled out to all Sears stores nationwide.
Mobile commerce continues to evolve and develop, and we can expect to see a lot of exciting changes in this space in the near future. What's already evident is that the smartphone has become the latest way to shop, return, and make payments: in other words, it’s the new one-stop shop.