eMarketer projects 19.0% of US retail ecommerce sales will stem from mobile devices this year. By 2016, the share will rise to 25.0%. Traditional retailers, ecommerce players and mobile-only businesses are all vying for the money consumers are increasingly spending through their smartphones and tablets, according to a new eMarketer report, “Mobile Commerce Deep Dive: The Products, Channels and Tactics Fueling Growth.”
Apps may be where mobile users spend most of their time—86.0% of US smartphone internet time was spent in apps in 2013, according to Flurry’s analysis of data from comScore and Net Marketshare—but when it comes to spending money, mobile websites are where consumers funnel their funds. For example, 55% of the adult shoppers polled in a December 2013 survey conducted by Baynote and the e-tailing group said they used their smartphone to make a holiday purchase directly on a website, up from 43% who said they did so during the 2012 holiday shopping season. Comparatively, only one-third (34%) sealed the deal using a retailer-branded app on their smartphone or tablet in 2013.
Moreover, a sizeable share of US mobile users buy frequently from mobile sites: 32% of US mobile phone owners surveyed in November 2013 by PricewaterhouseCoopers said they purchased merchandise on a weekly basis from a website they accessed through their phone. The burning question on the minds of many retailers is whether apps in general are a threat to mobile website sales. The consensus among those interviewed for this report is they’re not. In fact, apps often drive incremental sales, especially for businesses that lead their most loyal shoppers there with the goal of increasing repeat shopping sessions and ultimately the lifetime value of these devoted customers. At this point, with more retailers having mobile websites than apps and many apps lacking commerce functionality, apps are more of a driver of mobile websites sales than a threat.