The rise and rise of mobile retail

The rise and rise of mobile retail

For Australians, mobile technology is very much a way of life. Over 16 million people own a smartphone or tablet and three quarters of us use it just as much as a desktop or laptop when searching for ideas and advice about what to buy.

These are just some of the statistics that illustrate Australia’s increasing reliance on the mobile device.

We’re using this mobility for shopping, banking, social media and more, and it’s very much shaping our retail experience.

Here’s an insight into the rise of mobile, and how it applies to retail…

The statistics

“Saying mobile internet should be like saying ‘colourTV’. We’ll use the word mobility a lot less in the future because it will just be assumed that’s how we’re communicating” – Peter McLachlan Chief product officer and co-founder of Mobify.

According to research by Deloitte Smartphone ownership in Australia has now reached 84%, with over 16 million people owning a touchscreen phone.

That’s an increase from 11.1 million in 2013 according to Yump, who also explain between 2013 and 2015 tablet ownership almost doubled from 6.3 million to 11.2 million.

The result is that Australians spend more than two thirds of their IT time on mobile devices.

It’s a similar situation in America where research by Pew, indicates 77% of Americans now own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011.

So what are we so busy using our mobiles for?

Accessing Apps

According to research by eMarketer the majority of time spent on mobile devices involves using apps, with Americans spending over three hours on apps each day.

These apps extend from banking to social media and working on the go, and the art of using them for retail is about harnessing their convenience.

Forbes explains: “Shoppers are more likely to use apps that provide unique value. Macy’s, for example, focuses on unique discounts to satisfy its deal-seeking core users”.

“By contrast, Neiman Marcus focuses on highly personalised recommendations for their less price-sensitive customers. Such brand-aligned app offerings help cement core brand equities with loyalist shoppers.”

However, Yump notes it’s not just about building apps, but also about improving the mobile experience in general. They explain 84% of shoppers turn on their mobile to help them shop while in a store.

“You can integrate with existing Apps, build a mobile-friendly website, target mobile search, buy mobile or in-App advertising, create branded content for Apps or run campaigns using social Apps such as Instagram and Snapchat,” they suggest.

Scouring Social media

On the subject of social media, it’s a major element of mobile phone usage with GeoMarketing noting 20 minutes each day is spent scouring social media.

In the big scheme of things that may not seem much, but the following statistics highlight social media’s immense consumer power:

  • Online adults aged 18-34 are most likely follow a brand via social networking (95%). (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. (Source: Ambassador)
  • There are 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts globally with 1 million new active mobile social users added every day. (Source: We Are Social)
  • 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles. (Source: Brandwatch)

Buying with the digital wallet

Australia is one of the world’s greatest adopters of contactless payments, and slowly but surely that’s extending to the digital wallet and the convenience of payment options like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay.

According to Gizmodo over half of payments in Australia are now completed via contactless cards or mobile apps.

Meanwhile mobile-based tap-and-pay systems have seen a surge in usage of over 200% in the last 12 months.

And the future is only likely to see that take-up increase. A representative for Australia’s big banks told News Limited: “Mobile wallets are currently overwhelmingly focused on mobile payments but will soon take in loyalty programs, mass transit ticketing, access, identity, and a great number of other future innovations”.

“Ultimately, there is no technical barrier standing in the way of our ­entire physical wallet becoming digital.”

Working on the go

It’s not all play and pay in our increasingly mobile world. A very real use of smartphone and particularly tablets comes in the form of working on the go. In retail this specifically relates to the use of mobile technology (both tablets and smartphones) to perform a role once reserved for highly specialised IT – the point of sale.

Formerly restricted to static cash registers, the now mobile Point of Sale allows retailers to take the register to the consumer, providing better customer service and shortening time in the queue.

It’s also a movement which is only set to increase, according to Forbes who note 87% of retailers will deploy mobile Point of Sale over the next four years.

Meanwhile Global Market Insights states mPOS is poised to grow at 17.8% CAGR from 2016 to 2023 creating value for retailers that leads to “more converged and integrated store solutions”.

The final word

Deloitte notes smartphone ownership will probably plateau in Australia over the coming years. What will change, however is how we continue to use it. The likelihood is our time on mobile devices will increase as we use it to pay more, search more, and turn to it for our everyday needs.


For retailers that means embracing the trend that is fast becoming a mobile first world.