As of 2012, more American adults use a Smartphone than a basic mobile phone.
That wasn’t the case a year ago. In May 2011, the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported the results from a survey, where 35 percent of adults said they owned a Smartphone. By February 2012, that number jumped to 46 percent.
The number of adults who don’t own a phone dropped, too. In 2011 during the same survey, 17 percent of adults reported that they didn’t own a mobile. Only 12 percent said the same in 2012.
Online shopping activity in 2012 reflects this trend. In late November, after the rush of Black Friday sales, PayPal released that phone-based shopping numbers were way up – global mobile payments went up 193 percent on Black Friday from 2011 to 2012.
Which cities saw the most mobile purchasing behavior? According to PayPal, Houston ranked first, with Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York trailing closely behind.
EBay, which owns PayPal, saw a similar overall jump in mobile-based purchases. It released that they saw the total mobile volume of transactions increase 153 percent this shopping season.
Even if potential shoppers don’t make a mobile-based purchase, they may browse your store through a mobile device. IBM reported that, while 13 percent of shoppers performed a transaction through their Smartphone or tablet, 18 percent visited the retail store on their mobile device.
So, how can retailers capitalize on this trend?
First, make your official website mobile-friendly. When you visit your site online, do you have to zoom in and out to navigate, dragging the screen in various directions to get to the information you need? If so, you have a fixed site that is great for traditional computers, but less accommodating to mobile visitors.
Plenty of web developers are skilled at adapting fixed sites into responsive designs that automatically change to suit the user’s viewing experience. It would be a good investment to hire a developer to make those changes on your website.
Releasing a mobile app can help expedite the shopping process, but only if it is a smooth, frustration-free experience. Resist the urge to further modify your app in the weeks before an anticipated rush of activity. New features aren’t worth it if, in the end, they still have some bugs that disrupt the customer’s checkout.
Also, don’t forget to perform testing. Set clear benchmarks so you can observe positive trends and not-so-positive kinks that you need to work out. Hone in the mobile operating systems and devices that many of your customers use. Make sure your website and app works seamlessly with those technologies, since they’ll be your primary money makers.
Black Friday 2012 has shown is that mobile shopping is on the rise and it’s here to stay. Retailers who want to stay in the game would benefit from responding to the trend sooner rather than later, so they can benefit from the uptick in online, on-the-go, mobile shopping activity.