Holiday Shopping Data Shows That Traditional Retailers Are Failing at Mobile

Mobile commerce has driven billions in retail sales this holiday season. 

The numbers tell the story: In the fourth quarter, 12 to 13 per cent of U.S. e-commerce dollars will flow through smartphones and tablets, according to comScore projections. Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 7, e-commerce sales have totaled $26.8 billion, so that translates to $3.2 billion in mobile.

If the same pace is maintained through Christmas, the 2012 holidays could result in some $4.8 billion in mobile retail sales. So, who’s pulling in all these dollars? 

The answer is increasingly clear: The same names who have succeeded in PC-based e-commerce are also taking the lead in mobile commerce — namely, in the U.S., Amazon and eBay.

Mobile was an opportunity for so-called “bricks-and-mortar retailers” — Best Buy, Target, Walgreens, and others — to make a fresh start in digital commerce, but their apps have failed to be crowd draws on smartphones and tablets. Meanwhile, mobile traffic is rushing to Amazon’s and eBay’s apps. 

That was certainly the case on one of the biggest shopping days this year.

Mobidia, a mobile data analytics company, tracked over 100,000 U.S. Android smartphone users and their shopping habits on Black Friday, which falls the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, and marks the start of the traditional shopping season.On that day, Nov. 23 this year, mobile users spent an average of 11 minutes on eBay’s app, and 10 minutes on Amazon’s app; about as much time as they spent in Google Maps on the same day. 

A mobile-native shopping app, Shopkick, also did well in terms of engagement. 

Mobile users who visited shopping apps overwhelmingly preferred Amazon and eBay to the apps of bricks-and-mortar retailers. 20-eight per cent of mobile shoppers accessed eBay’s app, and 25 per cent visited Amazon. But only 3 per cent visited the Best Buy app, and Target and Walgreens barely edged over 2 per cent. 

It’s true that iOS users weren’t tracked in this particular study, and that they drive a majority of e-commerce traffic (tablets are also key to mobile commerce and weren’t tracked). But other research has confirmed that traditional retailers are struggling to gain traction in mobile. Bricks-and-mortars retailers with highly visible national brands can’t afford to cede mobile turf to Amazon and eBay so easily. That is especially true since mobile apps are taking competition directly into their stores through showrooming. 

These trends are derived from U.S. data, but the same lessons apply worldwide. Traditional retail empires should take heed. 

Read More Of Our Mobile Commerce Coverage:

  • Mobile Commerce: How Retailers And Brands Can Win
  • CHART: iOS Drives The Vast Majority Of E-commerce Mobile Traffic
  • CHART: Mobile Shopping Revenue (U.S. and Europe)

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