A good deal of retail sales are now happening on mobile. And browsing for item on smartphones and tablets is even more common.
Retailers have been talking about the “mobile channel” for a while now, recognising that they can’t afford to ignore the potential upside from mobile engagement. But some retailers have moved faster than others to build a mobile audience.
At BI Intelligence, we looked at the most effective retailers on mobile, and found that Amazon, eBay, and Wal-Mart have done far and away the best job of encouraging customers to shop and research on their smartphones and tablets. Mobile-only users account for one-fourth to one-third of the total U.S. digital audience for each of these retailers.
In the report, BI Intelligence examines why these retailers been so successful on mobile. They have treated mobile as a means of engaging with consumers and reaching out to them in new ways, with features like app loyalty programs and image recognition technology. We look at the statistics behind eBay and Amazon’s transition from PC-based e-commerce to the mobile computing era. Their success wasn’t a given. And we look at one of the biggest surprises among the group: Wal-Mart, primarily an offline retailer, moved faster in mobile than it did in PC-based e-commerce.
Here are some of the most important facts about the Big Three mobile retailers:
- eBay is masterful at getting mobile users to spend time on the app. Its users spend over 108 minutes a month on the app.
- Amazon had more mobile-only users than Facebook in the U.S. in September of last year. These users visit only on mobile and never see the desktop version of the site.
- It’s not just Amazon. Mobile-only users account for one-fourth to one-third of the total U.S. digital audience for each of these three retailers.
- Shopping is a preferred mobile activity. eBay’s users spend an average 108 minutes a month on its app.
- Mobile commerce offers tremendous reach. A full 15% of the U.S. mobile population accesses Wal-Mart.com on their smartphones.
- What is each of these retail giants doing on mobile? eBay privileges user engagement; Wal-Mart convenience, discounts, and in-store features; while Amazon focuses on optimising user experience.
- E-commerce players large and small will follow the Big Three’s lead in solving mobile challenges, such as the fact that many retail sites still aren’t usable across all mobile browsers and operating systems. Also shopping carts don’t sync across mobile and desktop, and payment processes are still clunky.
In full, the report:
- Advances the “50-30-40 rule,” for mobile commerce properties, which starts with the idea that 50% of the audience should be accessing on mobile.
- Analyses the threat to e-commerce from “reverse showrooming,” which is when customers browse online but shop in physical stores.
- Studies the cases of eBay, Amazon, and Wal-Mart in order to see what they have done on mobile, and why.
- Looks at the use of the mobile Web vs. apps for the Big Three, and how each plays a different role depending on where the consumer is accessing.
- Discusses and compares the “mobile lift,” or the incremental mobile audience for the Big Three retailers.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.